MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The man police believe is responsible for raping and robbing a woman at gunpoint as she sat in her car in broad daylight late last year is now in jail on unrelated assault and kidnapping charges, CBS4 News has learned.
Terrence Jefferson, 33, is expected to be charged Wednesday morning with the rape and armed robbery of the woman in Miami’s Upper East Side neighborhood. Police declined to comment Tuesday night. A press conference has been scheduled for 10 a.m.
Nevertheless, sources tell CBS4’s Jim DeFede that Jefferson is the man police have been looking for in the December 30 sexual assault. The case was solved thanks to two young girls – ages 9 and 13 – who were robbed themselves a day after the rape. The children, and their street wise senses and remarkable memories, proved to be the key to identifying Jefferson as the attacker.
News of the arrest comes as welcome relief to the otherwise quiet, tree-lined neighborhood that has been on edge since the attack was first reported.
The original incident occurred about 9:20 a.m. as a young woman sat in her car entering GPS coordinates to a location in Tampa she was going to visit.
Without warning a man jumped into her car through an unlocked door, threw her in the backseat and drove off a short distance to an abandoned house. The man, wearing a hoodie, threatened her with a gun and took her money and other valuables. He then sexually assaulted her using his hand.
Police tell CBS4 News the woman remained calm and convinced the man to stop. He ran off and a neighbor’s security camera caught an image of the man driving off in what appeared to be a black Chevy Impala.
The next day two young girls were walking in the area of 80th Street and NE Seventh Avenue – approximately eight blocks from where the sexual assault took place — when they said a man got out of a black Impala, pulled a gray hood of a sweatshirt up over his head and pulled out a gun. “Hey come over here,” the man reportedly yelled at the children.
However the girls, cousins, dropped their book bags and laptops they were carrying and took off running. But they did take notice of the license plate, a police report states.
The man gathered the children’s belongings and drove off. It is not known if the man was trying to get the children into his car or if he just intended on robbing them.
The father of the nine-year-old, who asked that his name be withheld for fear of retaliation, said he had always taught his child what to do if someone approached her with a gun or tried to hurt her or force her into a car. He told her she should just run and look for help.
He said he also taught her how to look at a car’s license plate and remember the numbers and letters.
“Look, she’s a very smart kid,” the girl’s father told DeFede.
Police traced the license plate to a woman who lives in North Dade on NW 14th Avenue – less than two miles from where the attacks took place. CBS4 News has learned that the woman told police that her boyfriend was using the car on December 30 and 31. Police eventually identified her boyfriend as Terrence Jefferson.
Jefferson has a lengthy and violent criminal history including charges for assault with a deadly weapon, strong-arm robbery, cocaine possession, and aggravated assault on a police officer.
Police showed Jefferson’s picture to the two girls and both the nine-year-old and the 13-year-old picked Jefferson out of a photo lineup, sources tell DeFede.
On January 8, police arrested Jefferson at his girlfriend’s house and charged him with two counts of armed robbery, kidnapping and false imprisonment for the attack on the children.
Because he was already on probation, Jefferson is being held without the possibility of bond. Once he was in custody and off the streets, police then went to work trying to tie him to the rape and armed robbery.
The victim in that case was shown a photo lineup containing Jefferson’s picture and she identified him as her attacker, according to sources.
Police are now investigating whether Jefferson may be responsible for other assaults in the area. For those affected by these crimes the trauma remains.
“It’s scary man. I’m ready to freaking cry how bad it is,” said the father of the nine-year-old, tears welling up in his eyes. “I want to say thanks to [the] detectives.”
He went on to say of Jefferson: “I hope he gets 20 or 30 years in prison.”