Reliving terror, women testify to being attacked in their CT rooms 4 decades ago as once-closed case goes to trial – Hartford Courant
Two women told a jury in Hartford on Tuesday that 38 years ago they were sleeping in their beds when a strange man appeared in the dark.
The first, then 25 from Bloomfield, saw his silhouette as he perched by her bedside on the night of June 3, 1984. She could also see the shape of a gun through a burst of light that poured down in her bedroom from a lamppost, she told a jury.
The other, then 30, could not see the man at all, but she heard someone in her room. She thought her husband had returned early from a business trip with his job at ESPN.
Until she hears a strange voice say “I’m not your husband” in the dark, she testifies.
Both women were blindfolded, preventing them from seeing the face of the man who allegedly assaulted them in a series of four similar attacks that hit suburban areas in Bloomfield, Windsor, Rocky Hill and Middletown, where the women lived in apartments or condominiums with sliding doors.
On Tuesday, nearly four decades later, they finally stood up in court to share their stories.
The women, identified only as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, both testified on day one of the trial of Michael Sharpe, a 71-year-old former Connecticut charter school CEO who faces four counts kidnapping in connection with the attacks. .
Both told the jury everything they remember about the night they were attacked so long ago. Investigators believe Sharpe carried out the attacks on the women, but the statute of limitations for the sexual assaults – five years in 1984 – have long expired.
Cases had gone cold, but in 2020 a relative’s genetic testing led police to take a DNA sample from Sharpe’s trash can that linked him to DNA from the rapes, a match later confirmed by a court-ordered DNA test.
Prosecutors say they are confident they can prove Sharpe kidnapped the four women because each woman was blindfolded, held at gunpoint and felt like she couldn’t leave until the assailant was at her house. Kidnapping is defined in Connecticut law as defined by state law as “detaining someone with intent to prevent their release.”
Investigators allege Sharpe entered the women’s homes late at night through sliding doors. He told them he had just shot someone and was being chased by the police. He needed a place to hide, he told Jane Doe 1, making her sniff the gun he had allegedly just drawn, she testified.
He told Jane Doe 2 that he needed money to evade the police and berated her when he found little money in her purse.
“How am I supposed to go anywhere with $4?” she told the jury that she remembered him asking.
The four women said their attacker stayed home after the attacks, doing things like running water from the taps, removing their landline phones from the walls, rummaging through their belongings and asking if they had any meat for him. lunch so he can make a sandwich. , according to testimony and court records.
Later this week, the other two victims are also expected to testify.
Jane Doe 1 spoke first in the trial, answering dozens of questions about a clearly distressing memory.
She was working as an engineer and living with a roommate the night of her assault, when she came home, did things in the kitchen, rearranged plants, locked doors, turned off lights, then went to bed .
She woke up about 30 minutes later to a man sitting on her bed, rubbing his arms.
“I thought it was a joke, like a dream,” she told the court. But then she made out the silhouette of a stranger.
“I knew it wasn’t anyone I knew,” she said.
Jane Doe 1 told the jury that she was shaking when the man told her to calm down in a calm but deep and aggressive voice. He ordered her to blindfold herself with her own scarf after going through her drawers.
His hands were tied until he untied them and asked her to touch him to “relax him”, Jane Doe 1 told the jury.
She knew her roommate was home, but she didn’t call for help, she told the jury, because she didn’t want him to hurt either of them. She said she heard him place something heavy and hard, like the gun he claimed to have, on the glass top of his bedside table.
He took off her clothes, touched her, sexually assaulted her and then asked her if she wanted to have sex, she testified.
“I said ‘I don’t do that’,” she recalls. And then he climbed on top of her and raped her, she testified.
Before leaving, he went through her things and stayed at her house for what she said was an eternity. He ordered her not to leave her room, go downstairs or call the police. So, until the next morning, she remained blindfolded alone in the dark, she testified.
Jane Doe 2 recalled a similar night where she repeatedly said she was just trying to survive.
She had watched a movie and gone to bed, her husband out of town on a work trip. She woke up to an intruder in her bedroom. He told her he wasn’t going to hurt her “if she cooperated,” she told the jury.
He held a gun to his head, she told the court, and told a story similar to the one he told Jane Doe 1: “He needed money to get out of the State because he had shot someone and the pigs were looking for him”. Jane Doe 2 told the jury.
Her voice “was very calm, not nervous, not nervous,” she said, and he ordered her to blindfold herself with a belt from a multicolored dress in her closet, then add a scarf to making sure she couldn’t see as he held her arm and guided her downstairs to withdraw money from her wallet. She only had a few dollars.
She tried to lie to save herself, she told the jury: she said her husband might be home any minute, she said she was on her period, she said she had cancer. But he was not discouraged. He gave her towels from his bathroom to lie on the bed and he also raped her, she testified.
Then he asked for something to eat and went through her fridge as she lay blindfolded in her bed, she testified.
“I was scared for my life, I wasn’t going to do anything to cause it. I wanted to survive,” she testified.
The two women who testified on Tuesday were taken to hospital after their attacks and given rape kits. The DNA of their attacks has been preserved for many years, despite the case cooling off, allowing investigators to match it two years ago.
Both said they never saw their attacker because it was dark and then they were blindfolded, and said that at the time of initial police interviews they told detectives that thought their attacker was white. Sharpe is black.
Investigators said Tuesday they created victim profiles to determine if the four women had anything in common: whether they worked with one of the same people, whether family members or significant other were doing, if they had links with a common acquaintance. There were none.
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Detectives suspected that a single criminal carried out all four attacks due to similar descriptions of speech, demeanor, and proximity to Interstate 91 and Route 9, and in April 2003 the crime lab linked all four assaults. to a DNA donor.
Prosecutors also called to the stand on Tuesday former law enforcement officers who worked with the Middletown Police Department and the Bloomfield Police Department at the time of the attacks, questioning them about evidence recovered from the victims’ homes. , like a gray, green and white striped bed sheet. and a brown bath towel.
Current law enforcement officers testified that when cold case investigators asked them to retrieve evidence after Sharpe was allegedly linked to the crime, they found no evidence of the decades-old cases in their storage.
As the case went cold, Sharpe was convicted of forgery for falsifying documents in a $415,000 real estate fraud case. He was a property manager for the Bay Area Rapid Transit system in San Francisco a few years later and was convicted of embezzling more than $100,000 before returning to Connecticut to sell extensions of the education initiative from his mother, the Jumoke Academy program.
Sharpe is released on a promise to appear. He appeared in court on Tuesday wearing a red quarter-zip sweater under a navy blazer, with a matching red cap with Black Dog branding. If found guilty by the jury, he faces up to 100 years behind bars.
Sharpe’s trial began around 10 a.m. Tuesday in Hartford Superior Court before a six-person jury. The trial is expected to continue on Wednesday.
The trial is expected to last six to seven days, court officials said, and then the jury will begin deliberating.