Augusta rape suspect captured in Illinois

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Charles Anthony James: Thirty-four-year-old faces aggravated sodomy, armed robbery and kidnapping charges in Augusta. Illinois police, investigating a car accident, found Mr. James on Tuesday.

A man charged with several rapes in Augusta was captured Tuesday in Illinois.

 

Charles "Tony" Anthony James, 34, was arrested in Springfield, Ill. Investigators in three states and the U.S. Marshals Service have been trying to track down Mr. James since learning he had been mistakenly released from Valdosta State Prison on Dec. 27. Mr. James should have been returned to Augusta, where he faces charges that include aggravated sodomy, armed robbery and kidnapping.

An initial computer records check didn't reveal the open charges against him, according to a statement from the Department of Corrections.

After walking out of prison, Mr. James got on a northbound bus. Investigators think he got off in Macon, Ga., and ended up in Jones County, about 10 miles from the bus station, Jones County sheriff's Investigator Ken Gleaton said.

Mr. James is a suspect in a home invasion there.

On Dec. 29, a 79-year-old woman and a 9-year-old girl she was baby-sitting arrived home to find a man armed with a knife, Investigator Gleaton said. He gagged and bound the victims with duct tape and stole the keys to the woman's van, Investigator Gleaton said. The girl was able to work her way out of the duct tape, free her elderly caregiver and call for help.

On Jan. 3 the victim's stolen van was found alongside Interstate 24 in Kentucky, not far from the scene of a similar home invasion a day earlier.

On the afternoon of Jan. 2, Roberta Meadows, 88, answered a knock at the door of her home in Cadiz, Ky. A man armed with a knife forced his way inside, Cadiz police Officer Scott Brown said. The man demanded money from Ms. Meadows and her daughter, 65-year-old Connie Thomas. He took cash and the keys to Ms. Thomas' Honda Accord, Officer Brown said.

The man also took a cell phone and disabled the home's phones before leaving.

Late last week, a Jones County, Ga., resident found a discarded identification card in his yard and called the sheriff's department. The ID belonged to Mr. James, Investigator Gleaton said.

On Tuesday morning, officers investigating an accident in Springfield discovered the vehicle had been stolen. The driver, Mr. James, was taken into custody, Richmond County sheriff Lt. Scott Peebles said.

For Mr. James to be extradited back to Georgia, Gov. Sonny Perdue's office must make a request to the Illinois governor's office, District Attorney Ashley Wright said in an e-mail.

"Our goal is to get him tried as soon as possible," she said.

Meanwhile, Ms. Wright said, her office staff has begun auditing all open cases to determine what other defendants might be in state prisons. Detainers will be filed with the Department of Correction for every one, she said.

Mr. James was on parole when arrested in a series of violent sexual assaults in Augusta in 2008. After his arrest, his parole was revoked and he was sent to prison to complete a 10-year sentence for a 1999 robbery.

Ms. Wright said that in the past the sheriff's department would file a detainer to hold an inmate with pending charges after being notified by the corrections department that the inmate was about to be released.

In Mr. James' case, a check for warrants, detainers and open charges was conducted by the Department of Corrections, but nothing was found, spokeswoman Peggy L. Chapman wrote in an e-mail. A subsequent review uncovered the open charges, she wrote.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.