Houston & Peach

Fort Valley rape suspect also accused of aggravated sexual battery from January

FORT VALLEY -- A man faces three criminal counts of rape and other charges in connection with a string of sexual assaults and burglaries near Fort Valley State University last month.

Darrell Aundray Ross, 28, of Fort Valley, also faces charges of aggravated sexual battery and home invasion in a Jan. 31 attack on St. Luke’s Lane, said David Cooke, district attorney for the Macon Judicial Circuit, which includes Peach County.

Cooke’s remarks came at a news conference Wednesday at the Peach County Law Enforcement Center.

Ross was connected to the crimes by a combined law enforcement task force that organized after a series of break-ins and attacks in early April.

Between April 2 and April 9, someone broke into five homes and raped two women. Three women struggled with their attacker before he fled. Then, between April 25 and April 28, Fort Valley officials investigated another rape, an attempted rape and five break-ins.

Cooke detailed the other charges at the news conference:

Rape, home invasion, armed robbery and aggravated assault; April 2; Mollette Street;

Rape, home invasion and false imprisonment; April 5; Vandaway Street;

Attempted rape, home invasion and aggravated assault; April 8; Rayfield Wright Street;

Home invasion, kidnapping, aggravated assault and attempted rape; April 26; Julius Simmons Avenue; and

Rape, home invasion and false imprisonment; April 28; Spencer Street.

The GBI is drafting the warrants, which are expected to be executed Thursday.

“This is an ongoing investigation, so at this point there was more than enough evidence, in my opinion, for the issuance of these warrants,” Cooke said. “However, there are other crimes where he could be a suspect where the ongoing investigation could lead to other charges. ... There’s more than enough evidence for these charges, and there’s a possibility more could come.”

Law enforcement authorities have said they are confident Ross is the alleged serial rapist they’ve been looking for, though Cooke cautioned that Ross has the presumption of innocence until he is proven guilty in court. No additional rape victims are known to have come forward, Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese said after Wednesday’s news conference.

Ross matched the physical description of the suspect from the April incidents, and he also was wearing dark clothing, a mask and gloves, Fort Valley Public Safety Director Lawrence Spurgeon said.

In addition, Ross had a Taser stun gun and BB gun when arrested about midnight Saturday after he was seen in the woods behind a Fort Valley apartment complex. A woman and her boyfriend were pulling up to her apartment when they spotted him. The boyfriend confronted Ross, and the girlfriend called 911 while her boyfriend held him at the scene until police arrived.

Ross, who is behind held at the Peach County jail, initially was charged with criminal trespass, possession of tools for the commission of a crime, possession of a firearm during the commission or attempt to commit a crime, and prowling.

A combined reward of $10,000 was offered by the FBI, Fort Valley police, the Peach County Sheriff’s Office and Macon Regional Crimestoppers for the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the April rapes and break-ins.

“It’s my understanding that the information they (the couple) gave was instrumental, and it’s my expectation that they shall receive a reward should they comply with all the terms,” Cooke said.

J.T. Ricketson, the GBI’s special agent in charge of the Perry office, said it’s hard to say whether Ross would have been arrested without the help of the Fort Valley couple.

The task force was already moving to add law enforcement officers to put more “boots on the ground” to identify the suspect, Ricketson said.

One lesson learned from the events, Spurgeon added, is to be more proactive in educating the Fort Valley community about personal safety, especially with its population of college students.

The task force comprises Fort Valley police, the Peach County Sheriff’s Office, the FVSU campus police and the GBI. The task force also enlisted help from Perry police, the Georgia State Patrol and Warner Robins police officers with K-9s. There also were offers of help from other agencies, including the Bibb County Sheriff’s Office, Cooke said.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.