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Suspect ordered to stand trial in rape of 76-year-old woman

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, August 16, 2013, at 12:07 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, Feb. 3, 2014, at 10:53 a.m.

An 18-year-old man was ordered Friday to stand trial in the rape and robbery of a 76-year-old woman in her southeast Wichita home.

A judge will be asked to rule later whether a 17-year-old accomplice – the one police said committed the rape – will be tried as an adult in the case.

A witness at the two-day hearing said the two defendants gave conflicting statements about the crime – each claiming to have acted as a lookout while the other collected property and presumably had the opportunity to rape the woman. DNA evidence, however, pointed only to the juvenile. Police said the woman’s DNA was found on the underwear the juvenile was wearing at the time of his arrest. No such evidence was found on the clothing of John Edward Thompson, the adult.

Wichita police said two intruders, one armed with a handgun, broke into the woman’s home near Lincoln and George Washington Boulevard about 5 a.m. on June 7. Police said the robbers took two flat-screen television sets, jewelry and $3 in cash from the woman’s purse.

The woman testified Wednesday that one of the men held a gun to her head as he raped her, then threatened to come back and kill her if she called police. Prosecutors were granted permission to videotape the woman’s testimony so it will be available for use if she is unable to testify at future hearings.

Wichita police lab investigators testified that they recovered 13 fingerprint impressions from the woman’s home. They said six were left at the crime scene by Thompson and five were left by his juvenile co-defendant. One print was traced to the victim, investigators said, and one was never identified.

Police found some of the woman’s jewelry while executing a search warrant at a home in the 2400 block of East Mesita where both suspects were arrested. The home is a few blocks from the home of the victim.

Wichita police Detective Scott Wiswell testified Friday that each of the suspects gave a statement about the crime. Neither sounded completely credible, he said.

Thompson said during his interview that the 17-year-old decided to break into the home after noticing that a car that was usually parked outside was gone, Wiswell said. Thompson said he broke into the home through a basement window, then opened a door to let in the juvenile and a third person he knew only by the nickname of “Rage.” Wiswell said he was never able to identify “Rage.”

Thompson said that while he was acting as a lookout, he heard someone cry for help and went to investigate, Wiswell said. Thompson said he looked into a bedroom and saw the 17-year-old and “Rage” holding a woman on the floor. Thompson never mentioned witnessing a rape, Wiswell said. Thompson said the men loaded the property into a car and left.

According to the juvenile’s account, the break-in was Thompson’s idea. The juvenile said Thompson broke in through the basement window and was in the house alone for five minutes before he opened a door and let him inside. The juvenile later increased the estimated time that Thompson was alone in the house to 20 to 30 minutes. The juvenile insisted there was not a third person involved, Wiswell testified, and claimed to know no one named “Rage.” The juvenile said he and Thompson left the house without taking any property, Wiswell said.

The woman said during her testimony on Wednesday that the man who raped her repeatedly said two words during the attack – “Savage” and “Meghan.” Savage is the name of the 17-year-old’s dog, Wiswell said, and Meghan is the name of his girlfriend’s sister.

Although the DNA evidence was linked only to the juvenile, District Judge Joseph Bribiesca ruled there was enough evidence to order Thompson to stand trial not only on charges of aggravated burglary but also aiding and abetting in the woman’s rape and robbery.

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @hlaviana.

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