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 is now being charged with that crime after being jailed nearly two weeks ago on unrelated robbery and kidnapping charges.
“We are here to announce the arrest of Terrence Jefferson,” said Miami Police Chief Manual Orosa at a packed news conference on Wednesday morning.
Chief Orosa confirmed details that CBS4 News first reported on Tuesday. Jefferson, 33, is being charged with the rape and armed robbery of the woman in Miami’s Upper East Side neighborhood on December 30th.
Wednesday afternoon he was scheduled to made his first appearance in bond court on the latest charges against him but the hearing was reset to Thursday.
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Jefferson was only released from prison one month prior to the start of his most recent crime spree which included not only the rape and robbery of one woman, but the robbery of two young girls and attempted kidnapping of another woman, said police.
The case was solved thanks to two young girls – ages 9 and 13 – who were robbed themselves a day after the rape.
“He brandished a firearm at the two girls. The little girls were afraid, started yelling, dropped their phone and laptop and ran away,” said Orosa.
However, the girls’ street wise senses and remarkable memories, proved to be the key to identifying Jefferson as the attacker.
The 9-year-old girl provided a partial license tag to police, who were able to track the car to Jefferson’s girlfriend.
Orosa said Jefferson had been living with her and when she went to work, he would use her car without her knowledge.
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 December 30th 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 a black Chevy Impala.
It was that Impala the police found thanks to the young girls who were robbed the very next day in the area of area of 80th Street and NE Seventh Avenue – approximately eight blocks from where the sexual assault took place. They told police 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.
That’s when the girls dropped their belongings and ran but not before taking note of the license plate.
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 CBS4’s Jim 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.
That woman is Jefferson’s girlfriend.
Jefferson has a lengthy and violent criminal history that dates back to 2000. Charges include attempted felony murder, strong arm robbery and aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer for which he was sentenced to state prison. He spent 3 ½ years in prison and was released on November 20, 2013.
One month later, the woman was sexually assaulted.
“Apparently rehabilitation in jail didn’t work for him. He was only out for a month and he started his crime wave again,” said Chief Orosa.
Jefferson was positively identified by all four of his victims; the two young girls, the sexual assault victim and another woman who was robbed on December 28th. In that case, Chief Orosa said Jefferson pulled up alongside an 18-year-old woman who had just left a bus stop and forced her at gunpoint to get into the black Impala. The arrest affidavit for that case states that Jefferson man told the victim “Don’t look at me or I’m going to kill you” then demanded she take her clothes off.
“The woman fought back and ran away and she gave us a good description of the car,” said Orosa.
“When we arrested him about a week and a half ago, he was already violating probation,” said Orosa.
Because he was already on probation, Jefferson is being held without the possibility of bond.
“Hopefully we can give him a long jail term and he won’t do this again,” said Orosa.
Jefferson is charges with 4 counts of armed robbery, 3 counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, 1 count of armed kidnapping, 1 count of false imprisonment and 1 count of sexual battery.
CBS4’s Jim DeFede contributed to this report.