Tulsa Rape Suspect In Custody

Friday, March 30th 2007, 9:45 am
By: News On 6

A manhunt that began in Tulsa two nights ago ends with the suspect’s capture Friday in Joplin, Missouri. A man accused of assault, rape, forcible sodomy, robbery, burglary and several other crimes was arrested after running from police in Tulsa, Joplin and everywhere in between. It’s a scene that will put many minds at ease, 37-year-old Ralph Smith Jr., in handcuffs and in police custody. News On 6 anchor Jennifer Loren reports police say Smith is responsible for a two-day violent crime spree that started in Tulsa.

"This is very much a very extended crime spree,” said Tulsa Police Sgt. Gary Stansill. “He obviously was very dangerous. Thank goodness he's been apprehended."

The crime spree began Wednesday night at the Creek Casino. Police say Smith befriended a 76-year-old woman and talked her into giving him a ride. Instead, they say Smith took her to buy drugs and then to a motel where he sexually assaulted and robbed her, then stole her car. Police say Smith used the victim's trust against her.

"There are so many people that are trusting, and people take advantage of that," said Stansill.

The events that led to Smith's arrest are just as violent. Investigators in Missouri say they'd been looking for Smith since Thursday morning after two attempted home invasions and one home invasion in Joplin. They say one involved a sexual assault, another an assault. Then, after a hit and run Thursday night, they say Smith led deputies on a high-speed chase back to Oklahoma, where he got away, but after a tip, police realized Smith found a way back to a motel in Joplin. That’s where deputies spotted him and chased him on foot, capturing him in a Joplin neighborhood. Tulsa police say his arrest was a group effort, but everyone wins.

"Here's a man charged with first degree rape, forcible sodomy, attempted rape, a multitude of charges, kidnapping, robbery as well as the home invasions, so anytime we can take somebody like this off the street it's a win-win for everyone," said Tulsa Police Officer Scott Walton.

Friday Smith was charged with three other home invasions that happened in Tulsa in recent weeks. Police say Missouri authorities will probably keep him and try him there first since they caught him first.

For A Related Story:
03/29/2007 Search Underway For Assault Suspect