ST. CROIX — With Chief of Police Winsbut McFarland and Crime Stoppers USVI Chair Laurie Dunton standing near, V.I.P.D. Commissioner Delroy Richards announced this afternoon at the force’s headquarters in Frederiksted, that V.I.P.D. officers — along with federal partners — had arrested four individuals late Thursday believed to be involved in the rape incident that occurred two weeks ago.
“I can say today that we have brought some closure to this investigation,” Mr. Richards said.
The commissioner said two of the suspects arrested were directly involved in the rape, while a third, also directly involved, was on the U.S. mainland who would soon be arrested and brought back to the territory to face charges. “We are currently seeking him, we know where he is, [and] he will be brought back to the territory,” Mr. Richards said.
He revealed the first suspect as 18-year-old Link Baltimore Jr., who was charged with first-degree rape, kidnap for rape, third-degree burglary, unauthorized possession of a stolen vehicle, and first-degree robbery. The second suspect has been identified as Youan Rodriquez, 22, who was charged with first-degree rape, kidnap for rape, third-degree burglary, and first-degree assault.
The two other individuals that the force arrested late Thursday were Carl Cornelius, age 19 — charged with possession of stolen property, after a search warrant was executed and items were recovered that were removed from a home during the commission of a burglary. And Bethzaida Berrios, age 50, who was charged with possession of stolen property, after a search warrant was executed at her residence and property recovered that was reported stolen from a burglary. The commissioner explained that the primary suspects involved in the rape incident had not only stolen the white truck to commit the crime, but they had heisted multiple items from the burglary victim’s residence. The primary suspects were also connected to other burglaries, the commissioner said. The two suspects who were charged with possession of stolen property — the 19-year-old and 50-year-old — corralled the stolen items, the commissioner said.
Asked whether the suspects were involved in the recent Salt River incident that had similarities to the East End rape crime, the commissioner said while the force could not say for sure yet, they were not ruling out the possibility.
Mr. Richards expressed appreciation for the community’s assistance, who he said had flooded police and Crime Stoppers USVI with valuable leads. He also expressed gratitude to Ms. Dunton for her unwavering involvement in the matter. And he thanked Chief McFarland, whose teams were deeply involved in solving the case, the commissioner said.
The commissioner also sought to unite the community, stating that the incident had caused some division. “That separation should never exist,” he admonished. “Whenever a crime is committed, irregardless to who it is committed to, we have a responsibility to investigate, identify, and to bring the perpetrators to justice — and we intend to do that,” he said.
The arrests represent a proud time for the V.I.P.D., as it managed to make quick and confident arrests in a high stakes case in two weeks. Mr. Richards rated the department he leads as “second to none,” and said that they would continue to do their best. The commissioner was optimistic about solving other cases as well.
Ms. Dunton thanked the community for supporting with tips as well as financially. “Unfortunately, this is not the last tear we will shed in this territory,” she reminded. “It’s not the last call to action that you will hear.”
She continued, “But what we have proven through this investigation, is that we can rest assured that with the community’s involvement, the Virgin Islands Police Department, our federal partners and Crime Stoppers — together can bring justice. We have risen and we will rise again.” Ms. Dunton mentioned unsolved cases that date back years. She also spoke of the more recent incidents, and urged the community to step forward with what they know.
The incident took place on the East End Road, according to police. Two females were driving when suddenly a white double cab truck rear-ended them, prompting the victims to stop the vehicle. One female stepped out of the vehicle and was taken by the three assailants elsewhere and raped. The second victim managed to escape, according to police.