A former Rock Hill mayoral candidate arrested last month as a fugitive when DNA implicated him in the unsolved 1986 rape of a woman in Miami, Fla., faces life in prison if prosecutors can prove he indeed committed the crime.
State prosecutors have filed formal charges against Baxter Tisdale, 50, who has been in a Miami jail since he was extradited from Rock Hill, accused of raping a woman at knife-point on Feb. 18, 1986.
For more than 25 years, Miami investigators say, the rape remained unsolved until they began combing through cold case files and compared DNA samples against the Federal Bureau of Investigations DNA database. Tisdales DNA turned up a match for the unsolved sexual assault, police say, and he was arrested at his Walnut Street home on Aug. 14.
Officials charged Tisdale with two counts of armed sexual battery, burglary with an assault and battery while armed, and armed robbery with a weapon, said Terry Chavez, spokeswoman for the Miami-Dade County office of the state attorney.
All four charges are felonies, Chavez said, and carry possible life sentences.
According to detectives and a court affidavit, Tisdale is alleged to have broken into a woman's home and raped her while her infant son slept in the same bedroom. During the assault, records allege, he covered the 21-year-old woman's eyes and placed a knife to her throat, then took money from her purse.
The affidavit alleges Tisdale placed a pillow over the womans head before he assaulted her twice.
Every time he did something to her, we charged it as a separate incident in the same case, Chavez said.
Tisdales trial is set for Oct. 22, Chavez said, unless by some miracle he pleads guilty. That date could change, she said, given Miamis high number of cases.
In May 2009, officials arrested Tisdale after his DNA matched swabs collected from an April 30, 1986, rape in the same Miami, Fla. neighborhood as the February rape.
Police spoke with the victim and allowed her to view a photograph of Tisdale, said Miami Detective William Nadramia, who investigated the case. She identified him as someone she knew from her neighborhood. Officials charged Tisdale with sexual battery and burglary.
Tisdale remained in a Miami jail for almost two years until the case against him was dismissed, Nadramia said, when the victim "didn't follow through with the state attorney's office for prosecution."
A month after his release, Tisdale sued the Miami-Dade Police Department, two prosecutors, Miami-Dade County and Nadramia, whom he accused of coercing the victim into identifying him in a photo lineup.
Tisdale's lawsuit demanded $50 million in punitive damages; $5 million for false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, mental anguish and defamation; and $44,100 for lost wages.
The suit was dismissed in June 2011 when Tisdale failed to serve the complaint in compliance with federal regulations.