Serial rape suspect arrested

The man suspected in seven rapes in North Tampa and who eluded capture for four years went quietly with deputies when he was arrested Friday.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Jerrod Pass, 38, on Friday at 10:12 p.m. in connection with a June 14 rape, said Captain J.R. Burton of the Criminal Investigations division during a press conference Saturday.

Pass, a cook at Wild Wings Cafe on Anderson and Waters, was booked Saturday on two felony counts of sexual battery and one of armed burglary of a dwelling. He is scheduled for a bond hearing Thursday at 2 p.m.

Burton said Pass is yet to be charged in six other rapes pending further laboratory analysis. Burton estimated it will take six weeks to be complete the tests, but said he was confident Pass will be linked to the other six attacks.

According to Burton, Pass stands accused of targeting single black females aged 24-37 who, in every instance, had small children 2 to 4 years old. The victims told investigators Pass threatened to kill their children if they spoke to the police. But Pass reportedly made no advances onthe children.

“He used (the children) as a bargaining chip to put (the victims) in fear and not call the police,” Burton said.

According to documents from the Sheriff’s Office, Pass is accused of entering the June 14 victim’s apartment at 4:30 a.m. and waking her with a screwdriver pressed to her throat. He allegedly threatened to kill her and her children if she made a sound and later said he would come back and kill her if she reported the crime to the police. Pass then left through the front door, according to the report.

The results of DNA tests galvanized the Sheriff’s Office into action. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement reported that DNA taken from the scene of the June 14 attack matched that of the suspect in five

other rapes.

“In this case, DNA evidence solved it, but it was the detectives and the deputies out beating the streets, good old-fashioned police work, talking to people, that solved this case,” Burton said.

A task force of deputies and detectives was organized to comb the area of 15th Street and 127th Avenue armed only with a general description of the suspect. In the early morning hours, officers questioned anyone they saw in the neighborhood fitting the description.

Members of the task force met Pass by chance one night around 3 a.m. while he was walking in the street. Burton said they thought he was looking for another victim. Pass allowed officers to collect samples of

his DNA.

They received word from the FDLE on 3 p.m. Friday that lab tests identified Pass as the June attacker. Officers arranged to meet him later that night in an undisclosed business complex at Fletcher Avenue and 15th Street without revealing their intention to arrest him.

Pass complied with officers at his arrest Friday night and offered no resistance, said Scott Wellinger, Sergeant of the Special Investigations division.

Burton described Pass as a laborer with no permanent address, drifting from one friend’s house to another. He has lived in Florida his entire life and moved to the Tampa area 17 years ago.

Burton said Pass has no substantial criminal history, with three contempt-of-court charges and one 2000 arrest for soliciting a prostitute. If convicted for the June assault, he could get life in prison, Burton said.

Dan Catlin can be reached at (813) 974-6299 or oraclecatlin