Skip to comments.Suspect in rape of 96-year-old woman commits suicide
Posted on 07/19/2002 5:25:07 AM PDT by rintense
(Grand Rapids, July 18, 2002, 7:34 p.m.) Grand Rapids police say the man suspected of raping a 96-year-old Alger Heights woman shot himself to death during a standoff at his Ionia County home Wednesday night.
At a news conference Thursday, Chief Harry Dolan said 34-year-old Joseph Michael Drake refused to communicate or to surrender to police detectives and Ionia County Sheriff's Deputies over a two-hour period.
"When we entered the house at about 11 P.M., we found him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head," said Sheriff Dwain Dennis.
Dolan praised his Major Case team as well as his crime scene investigators for their work on the case. The key to finding Drake, he said, was matching a finger print from the point of entry at the victim's home to Drake, who was an acquaintance of the victim's grandson.
In an exclusive interview with 24-Hour News 8's Matt Stevens, the grandson (who asked not to be identified) said he was shocked that someone he knew could commit such a brutal crime. "I still don't believe it. And I guess I won't until all the evidence is in," he said.
"We met six or seven years ago at work and I've seen him at a local bar several times. We didn't hang out together, but he came to the house last January or February to see the corvette I was reconditioning.
"He didn't meet my grandmother that day. She was sleeping."
The grandson says he's convinced that the sole motive of the early (Tuesday) morning break-in was rape. "Nothing was taken. My grandmother's purse was in plain view and so was her jewelry. Nothing was missing." The grandson says there was nothing in Drake's behavior over the years that indicated he was capable of committing such a crime.
Investigators say Drake's only run-in's with the law involved drunk driving arrests. Those arrests were the reason his prints turned up in the police computer.
Police say a witness identified a dark, four-door sedan as a possible suspect vehicle and that Drake's car is a dark, four-door Pontiac. The car has been impounded to be searched for evidence that might link Drake to the crime.
Police are also waiting for evidence taken from the crime scene to be processed before reaching a conclusion as to Drake's involvement. Dolan says that evidence will be compared to evidence in other unsolved rapes both in the Grand Rapids area and in Ionia County.