Thursday, June 22, 2000

Passers-by help nab suspect in rape attack

2 paper carriers phone police, read license plate

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A pair of newspaper carriers with a cellular phone led police Wednesday to a man accused in a brutal, random rape.

        The Enquirer carriers, Pete and Marie Davis, were on their way home to Northside about 4:45 a.m. Wednesday after finishing their route when they heard a woman screaming for help. They called a 911 dispatcher, describing the naked woman being beaten with a tire iron in the grass off Interstate 74.

        The Davises scared the man off, but not before they read his license plate.

        Within hours, police tracked the plate to Ernest “Vito” Sims, 40, of Herron Avenue, Cumminsville. Mr. Sims was arrested and charged with rape and felonious assault. Investigators praised the Davises for their help.

        Police say Mr. Sims approached the victim, a 34-year-old woman from the West End, as she walked along Elm Street coming from a store. He offered to drive her the several blocks to her Dayton Street house for $2.

        “It's just like your mother always told you — don't take rides from strangers,” Sgt. David Wuest said. “It's a dangerous thing.”

        The woman accepted the ride. Shortly after getting in the truck, she knew she'd made a mistake, Sgt. Wuest said, when Mr. Sims started driving faster and faster so she couldn't get out. He took Interstate 75 to I-74, started to exit at Colerain Avenue, but pulled off on a dirt access path instead, police said.

        The woman was listed in serious condition later Wednesday at University Hospital.

        Mr. Sims has a criminal record, but no past history of sex offenses, Sgt. Wuest said. Investigators will ask area police agencies to check their unsolved rapes for similarities. So far, no other rapes in the city appear to be linked, Sgt. Wuest said.

        Most of the approximately 300 rapes investigated annually by the police division involve people who know each other, Sgt. Wuest said. The man and woman in this incident had no previous contact, he said, making it one of very few random rapes that happen in the city.

        The Davises were about two blocks from home when they exited I-74 at Colerain Avenue and heard the screams. At first, the couple couldn't decide what was happening.

        “Then we saw the tire iron come down across her head,” Mr. Davis said.

        Mr. Sims, a construction worker, is expected to appear in court this morning.


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