Man accused in NYC rape has history of crime in McDowell County - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Man accused in NYC rape has history of crime in McDowell County

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David Mitchell spits at reporters following his arrest in New York - From NBC 4 New York David Mitchell spits at reporters following his arrest in New York - From NBC 4 New York

NEW YORK (WVVA) - A man accused of raping a 73-year-old birdwatcher in New York's Central Park has a history of criminal activity in McDowell County.

42-year-old David Albert Mitchell was taken into custody Wednesday night in Manhattan near where the alleged attack took place.

He was charged with predatory sexual assault, rape, criminal sex act, robbery and assault. He was arraigned Friday and held without bond.

View AP report on New York arrest

The Charleston Gazette reports Mitchell was previously accused of two similar crimes in McDowell County.

In 1989, Mitchell -- then 18 -- was charged with murder in connection with the sexual assault and beating of 86-year-old Annie Parks at her Jenkinjones home, the Gazette reports.

Mitchell was acquitted by a jury.

Months later, Mitchell was accused of breaking into the home of another elderly McDowell County resident -- allegedly raping her and stealing a gun.

The sexual assault charge was dropped in return for Mitchell accepting a plea deal on first-degree robbery charge, Prosecuting Attorney Sid Bell told the Gazette.

Mitchell served about 8 years of a 10-year sentence.

As recently as this year, Mitchell had run-ins with law enforcement in Mercer and Tazewell counties.

Relatives who spoke with the Associated Press by phone, said Mitchell -- who has tattoos of the grim reaper, castles, Nordic warriors and dragons all over his body -- was a heavy drinker who had spent most of his life in and out of jail. They said they weren't surprised by his latest brush with the law.

A sister-in-law and onetime girlfriend said Mitchell had been arrested in 2003 after trying to sexually assault her and dragging her out of her home in a drunken rage. Records show he was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to an abduction charge.

His trouble "was always sexually driven," Saretta Mitchell told The AP. "He was a sick individual as far as sex goes. ... I was just a dumb, naive person to get involved with him."

The last time Mitchell was seen in Virginia was at the beginning of August, his relatives said.

On Friday, the West Virginia State Police said that Mitchell had previously been eyed as a potential suspect in the 2002 disappearance of another Jenkinjones resident, Barbara Flake.

Flake, 50, disappeared on April 9, 2002, from her home. Her remains were discovered in McDowell County in 2004.

The victim in the alleged New York attack identified Mitchell in a police lineup Thursday.

The bird-watching victim in Wednesday's attack told police she had seen her attacker before, and believed he assaulted her in Central Park Wednesday morning because he was angry she photographed him exposing himself in a more isolated area of the park a week earlier, NBC 4 New York reports.

The woman told investigators the man asked, "Do you remember me?" before attacking her about 11 a.m. near the park's tranquil Strawberry Fields, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said at an earlier news conference.

She said he demanded she delete the image before they went their separate ways. Police said that initial encounter was not reported.

Information compiled from the Associated Press, Charleston Gazette and NBC 4 New York 

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