A DNA match led Columbus police yesterday afternoon to arrest a man at his South Linden home in the rape of a 13-year-old girl who was assaulted while waiting for a school bus.
Antonio J. Fillmore, 36, of 2321 Gerbert Rd., is charged with two counts of rape. Columbus police accuse him of the Tuesday morning sexual assault of the girl behind a vacant house in North Linden.
Fillmore was in the Franklin County jail last night and is scheduled to appear this morning in municipal court.
The girl, a Columbus middle-school student, was approached by a man about 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, as she waited alone for her school bus near the corner of Dresden Street and Myrtle Avenue.
She told police that the man — a stranger to her — struck up a conversation and then forced her behind the nearby vacant house at 1452 Myrtle Ave.
Fillmore, who is 5-foot-8 and 255 pounds, hit the girl in her face and grabbed her by her mouth while he raped her, court documents say.
The key to breaking the case was DNA evidence from the crime scene that was tested by the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The DNA matched a sample taken from Fillmore, Columbus police said.
All people convicted of felonies, and anyone arrested on a felony in Ohio since 2011, are required to have their DNA entered in a state database, said Dan Tierney, a spokesman with the state attorney general’s office.
Tierney said that when a case is considered to be urgent, the state bureau will expedite the DNA analysis.
Fillmore was sentenced in 1998 to three years in prison for felonious assault and another six months for drug trafficking in 2006. Documents in that case indicate the sentence was to run at the same time as another sentence from Wood County, W.Va.
Fillmore was arrested in 2010 in Columbus on a fugitive-from-justice charge out of West Virginia. Details on the West Virginia cases were not available last night.
Municipal court records show that Fillmore also has been charged three times with domestic violence and assault — twice against women with whom he has children. He also was charged once with child endangerment. State records show he has at least three children between the ages of 9 and 17.
SWAT officers arrested Fillmore without any problems yesterday afternoon at the Gerbert Road house, which is six-tenths of a mile from where the assault occurred.
A person at the home last night declined to talk about the case. Myrtle Avenue residents said yesterday that they’re relieved about the arrest. They also are being protective of the girl and her family.
The Dispatch does not name victims of sexual assaults.
Mildred Sutfin-Smith said she has been in contact with the girl and her family, and they request that they be left alone.
“The child has been having nightmares,” Sutfin-Smith said. “This has ripped this family apart. But they are coming together.”
Meanwhile, Sutfin-Smith and Redginal Berry, a fellow resident of the North Linden neighborhood, said that people are stepping up in the wake of the attack.
Residents for the past two mornings have been out on their porches, keeping a close watch on children walking to school, they said.
Berry and Sutfin-Smith are launching a plan to organize “porch parents” — residents who will hang orange signs on their porches, designating them as a place where a child can go for help.
Sutfin-Smith said the arrest helps to rebuild trust in the neighborhood.
“We don’t have to look over our shoulders now,” she said.
By Jim Woods - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
Dispatch Reporter Theodore Decker contributed to this story.
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