Reporting Bob Roberts
Updated: 11/10/10 9:01 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS/WBBM) – Bond has been set at $500,000 for a South Side father of 14 who has been arrested for the rapes of four teenaged girls, and charged in two of the cases.
Prosecutors told Criminal Court Judge Israel Desierto that suspect Marshall D. Smith, of the 8400 block of South Morgan Street, has been linked to the cases through DNA matches.
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Three of the cases dated back to the 1990s, and police said the 44-year-old suspect told them he allegedly raped other girls. Officers say during questioning, Smith told them that more women would come forward.
“Marshall Smith is the person that our parents would warn us about as children,” said Harrison Area Detective Cmdr. Anthony Riccio.
Riccio said that Smith would allegedly stop his car and speak with teenaged girls he saw standing or walking alone and try to gain their trust, allegedly telling them that it was not safe for them to be alone.
Once Smith had their trust, he would allegedly invite them into his car, pull a gun on them and rape them, Riccio said.
Police had DNA matches in three cases dating from 1996 — the rape of a 17-year-old girl in the alley behind 2130 S. Sawyer Av., in April 1996; the rape of a 16-year-old girl July 1, 1996, at 501 S. Racine Av.; and an attack on a 15-year-old girl at 1600 W. Madison on July 14, 1996.
But Smith’s DNA was not on file, despite two arrests for criminal sexual assault. In 1996, Smith agreed to plead guilty to a reduced charge of misdemeanor battery and was sentenced to a year of supervision. Smith said that a second charge, in 2001, was dropped when the victim refused to testify in court.
Riccio said that Smith readily confessed to the detectives who questioned him, once confronted with the DNA evidence from the most recent of the rapes so far to fit the pattern — an attack that occurred this past spring in the basement flat of a building that Smith owns at 5919 S. Rockwell Ave. The victim was 13 years old.
Riccio said it was apparent to detectives that the rapist had access to the basement flat, and Smith was initially questioned because he was the building’s owner.
Teens in that area did not recognize Smith when shown his photo, but they say close calls with strangers happen there all the time.
“A guy had grabbed me, talking about he was going to pay me for sex,” said one teen. “I couldn’t run because he snatched me in his hallway and he locked the door.”
CBS 2’s Pamela Jones visited Smith’s home Wednesday night. One of his daughters answered the door. She said she was shocked to hear about the charges. She said her father has been married to her mother for 21 years, and would never do something like this.
Police say the evidence tells a different story.
Down the street, neighbors were surprised to hear about the case, too.
“I’ve never seen him personally to notice him, but it is difficult,” said Joyce Walker. “That’s why I keep a close eye on my granddaughter.”
Her granddaughter is 13 — the same age as the latest known victim.
It pushed the Walker family to have a heart-to-heart about the dangers on the street.
“Be more aware of strangers, even the neighbors sometimes,” said Walker. “You have to be aware of them, too. Like he is a neighbor across the street, and you might think that he means you good, but he may not.”
Smith indicated to detectives that other cases would fit the pattern, but he was unable to say how many.
Harrison Area detectives are asking possible victims to come forward.
Smith is a plumber by trade and has owned several buildings. Police arrested him Monday night in his home.
He is charged so far only in two cases, the spring rape and one of the July 1996 attacks. In both cases, the victims identified Smith in a lineup. Riccio expected additional charges in the two other cases following lineups and said other charges depend on the women who come forward.
Smith returns to Violence Court (Vr. 66) for a preliminary hearing on the two rape counts on Nov. 29.