River search fails to yield suspect

September 3rd, 2009 by

TAMPA – You could see how badly police want to capture ex-con Joseph Frye by the small army of officers in the air, on the water and on the ground early Wednesday, searching the Hillsborough River Bridge at rush hour, after a 911 call from a neighbor of the rape victim.

“Based on the neighborhood sweeps officers knocking on doors and the TV coverage,” TPD’s Andrea Davis told FOX13, “she recognized what she thought was the rape suspect.”

If it was Frye, he got away. Officers say all they saw of the man at the bridge was someone running, they couldn’t get an identification

After the Friday rape of a Wellswood woman, who police say he surprised and disarmed inside her home, Frye ate a meal Saturday at New Beginnings, a Nebraska Avenue homeless shelter.

Manager Dan Julian helped officers search local homeless hangouts.

“We had at least 20 police officers last night,” Julian says. “Eventually they asked me to ride with them and to locate a park that’s hidden there in Sulphur Springs, not a lot of people know about.”

Police say they have evidence putting Frye at the rape scene, and they say, evidence he stalked the victim.

“Based on statements that he made at the scene we believe that he was staying in the area, and was famliar with the victim’s habits,” said Tampa Police Department’s Laura McElroy said.

But there’s more: a 2002 TPD report says Frye raped another woman, who was mentally ill, and was unwilling to prosecute. He’s been to prison five times, for rape and other crimes of violence, and he went back for violating probation, and was released August 1st.

FOX 13 News has learned that twice in recent years, state social workers have refused to hold Frye under the Jimmy Ryce act. DCF said he did not qualify as a sexually violent predator. Back at New Beginnings, Dan Julian had done his own evaluation.

“This guy obviously, is real, real dangerous, so everybody in the neighborhood is watching for him.”


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