After watching coverage of local police solving a rape case that occurred in 1987, a woman (whose name is being withheld) decided to ask the same exclusive unit to take a renewed look at her case which occurred over thirty-five years ago. She decided it was time for someone to pay for the knifepoint atrocity she experienced at her Ramblewood home in Coral Springs, Florida so long ago. The woman had just moved into the area with her family a few months before the alleged assault occurred.
This Facebook post among other reporting in local newspapers and a substantial amount of TV coverage gave her the hope and belief that what happened to her on Aug. 22, 1983 should be revisited.
Last month’s article posted on this blog highlighted the story of the arrest of Frank Montoya along with other victories of cold cases which were dug up and solved by the Coral Springs Special Victims Unit after many years of them seemingly being forgotten.
In this latest case, the victim was sleeping inside her home when she woke up to the form and face of a stranger. He was pressing a sizeable-sized steak knife to her neck, according to the originally filed police report.
At that time she told investigators she screamed at the sight as she came out of her sleep.
According to the 1983 police report he told her to shut up. He then told her “I’m not going to hurt you.”; and continued to repeat those empty words three times before he went on to sexually assault the startled victim. When the family dog started barking in agitation, the intruder pointed the knife and told the woman to shut the dog up. Fearing for her life, she was able to calm the pet down to a certain respect.
He then went on to rape her.
There were three other persons in the house during the attack. The woman’s husband was out of the area on business. The other people in the home were the woman’s mother, who had been battling cancer, and the victim’s two young daughters. Although her mother told police she heard the scream she thought it must have come from the children’s room. After checking on them and finding them both asleep she used the bathroom and then went back to bed oblivious to what was going on in the other room.
Police were able to determine that the offender entered the residence through a rear screened door that was cut with a sharp object.
At the time, the victim was able to tell police that the attacker was slim, Caucasian, clean-cut looking, with brown hair, wearing a strong smelling cologne.
After the attack was concluded, before he left her home he spoke to the victim irrationally telling her: “I have loved you for months…you have very nice children and a nice husband.” He then placed a pillow over her head and casually left the premises. After hearing his voice she was able to tell police that he had a heavy southern accent.
Police were able to gather a trove of physical evidence left behind by the perpetrator but at that time they were unable to connect any of it to a suspect. DNA testing linking suspects to crimes was in its infancy. There were also no existing criminal databases to comb through.
But that’s certainly no longer the case.
Readers of this publication have read many stories relating to how many cases have been resolved by law enforcement agencies after being lost in file drawers for decades, thanks to breakthroughs and advancements of modern DNA matching methods. In contrast other stories have focused on the exoneration of some who had been previously found guilty of crimes where DNA evidence has absolved them. Those who enjoy reading about this topic can view the below earlier posted articles:
Last month’s article: 31-Year-Old Coral Springs Rape Case Produces Arrest ties directly into this post as both cases were solved by the work of the Coral Springs Police Department’s Special Victim’s Unit; using similar methods of the use of DNA profiles to connect the dots in yielding each of these separate arrests.
In that case, Coral Springs police arrested a man named Frank Montana, who had escaped justice for three decades after a woman awoke to a ski-masked intruder standing over her bed.
In this latest case which made the headlines just two months ago, the DNA left at the scene was again sent to the Broward Sheriff’s Office for testing where the profile matched with a high confidence of certainty that it matched a man named Timothy Alan Norris.
After testing the old DNA, they said they found the unnamed woman’s attacker in a federal West Virginia prison, where he is currently incarcerated for a conviction for armed bank robbery.
Norris has an extensive criminal record including aggravated assault, assault on a female, kidnapping as well as armed burglary. His criminal record spans from 1977 through the present in Florida and North Carolina. On the federal bank robbery charge, Norris was arrested after he entered a credit union and passed a note that demanded money and specified that he had a gun.
Norris will be extradited back to Broward County for the 1983 rape. The unnamed woman is expected to testify at his trial.
What began with a Social Media posting by the Coral Springs Police advanced to its current status on August 16, 2019, when the Department posted “Breaking News: Coral Springs Detectives Solve 36-year old cold case” on their Facebook page.
Michael Cohen is a Fort Lauderdale based Criminal Defense Attorney specializing in the defense of federal crimes.
Follow his Twitter feed to read similar blog articles of this type relating to crime and punishment in the South Florida area.