Police: Man hid in apartment, raped south Charlotte woman

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said a man apparently broke into a south Charlotte apartment and attacked the female resident when she returned from work late Wednesday.

The suspect, identified by authorities as Derek Antonio Smith, 25, was captured early Thursday following a police pursuit in northwest Charlotte.

Police said it appeared as if the suspect and victim did not know each other.

“This type of ‘stranger rape’ is unusual, and we wanted to get the suspect off the streets as quickly as possible,” police Capt. Cecil Brisbon said. “With the help of the victim and some great work by detectives and patrol officers, we were able to do that.”

Police said the attack took place inside an apartment in the 1600 block of North Wind Place, off Sharon Road West near South Boulevard.

Brisbon said early investigation indicates the suspect broke into the apartment while the resident was at work.

“She was clearly caught by surprise after she got home,” Brisbon said.

Police said the woman was sexually assaulted, and the victim said the man stole her vehicle and other items from the apartment.

“The victim showed great strength,” Brisbon said. “Despite what happened to her, she was able to provide our officers with the information they needed to catch the suspect.”

Sometime around 1 a.m., a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department officer spotted the stolen vehicle on Statesville Avenue near Interstate 85 in north Charlotte. When the officer tried stopping the vehicle, police said, the suspect drove away. That touched off a pursuit.

The suspect allegedly led police southbound on I-85 and then on several other roads. Officers from the Metro and North divisions eventually put stop sticks at the intersection of Sunset and Reames roads. The suspect’s tires were flattened, and police took the man into custody.

Police said Smith was charged with three counts of first-degree sexual offense, first-degree rape, first-degree burglary, first-degree kidnapping, robbery with a dangerous weapon, larceny of a motor vehicle, felony fleeing to elude and several traffic charges.

The investigation is continuing, and anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers, 704-334-1600.