A vicious crime against an 8-year-old girl has been solved more than five years later, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff Mike Williams announced the arrest Wednesday of 20-year-old Henry Williams for the brutal rape in August 2015.
Henry Williams, who was 14 years old when the crime occurred, was not a suspect at the time. But Sheriff Williams said DNA collected from Henry Williams after he was imprisoned in October 2020 for a fatal 2017 carjacking conclusively linked him to the rape.
The attack happened in the 3000 block of University Boulevard North in Jacksonville, Florida. The 8-year-old victim was dragged from the outside of her then home at Eagle Pointe Apartments through a hole in a chain-link fence and into an adjacent wooded area. She was found by a neighbor, dazed, naked and bleeding.
“She wandered off with her bike unbeknownst to her mother, searching for her kitten. What she encountered was the monster,” neighbor Lawrence Laganelli, told the Florida Times-Union at the time. “What I saw was horrible.”
The attack required the girl to undergo hours of surgery to repair injuries to her lower body as well as her face, which carried the imprint of her assailant’s shoe.
The girl was unable to identify her attacker, other than to say he was a younger Black male. The case quickly went cold.
A year after the attack, then-Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Director Tom Hackney attempted to re-kindle the case, begging the public for help solving the crime, calling the unknown assailant a “soulless cretin.”
“Today being the one-year anniversary, I wanted to assemble this team of everybody who was here working with us then to ask for more help,” he said at a 2016 press conference. “Perhaps this person who did this has talked to somebody.”
Hackney added, “There’s a special place for this guy. I would like to be able to put him in jail until he has to reach that special place.”
Henry Williams is currently incarcerated at Lake City Correctional Facility. He received a four-year youthful offender prison sentence for his involvement in a fatal 2017 carjacking, but JSO placed a detainer on him in late December pending the charges announced Wednesday.
He has not yet entered a plea.