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Although he’d been arrested many times in Virginia, the abduction was the case that sent him to prison for the first time there. He served eight years at Red Onion State Prison, a maximum-security facility reserved for the worst of the worst offenders.
When he got out, he was placed in a halfway house in suburban Richmond and initially met the conditions required of him, according to a probation report filed in Tazewell County Circuit Court.
Mitchell worked with a tutor and was trying to obtain his GED. He was passing random drug-screening tests. Lee said some records that haven’t been made public indicate Mitchell may have schizophrenia.
But a month into the halfway house stay, Mitchell claimed he was robbed of $125 while working a construction job, "became very irate and threatened to kill everyone," the probation report said.
Mitchell agreed to a psychological evaluation but was thrown out of the halfway house over fears about his mental state.
He went back to prison for probation violations last October but failed to report to his probation officer when he was once again released.
"He just dropped off the grid," Lee said.
Authorities believed he might have been living in a tent in West Virginia. Then came word of the rape in Central Park.
Police there say he raped a birdwatcher who told police that she had taken a photo of Mitchell fondling himself days before the attack. She said Mitchell tried to take the camera away from her and demanded she delete the image. Then, on Wednesday, he attacked her in a wooded area near the busy Strawberry Fields section of Central Park, she told investigators.
He was also charged with threatening a man with a knife last month in the same area of the park.
He told the man, according to investigators: "I have no problem stabbing you as many times as I want and making this circle full of blood."
Mitchell was arraigned Friday on charges of first-degree rape, robbery, assault and other charges, and ordered held without bail. A call to his attorney at arraignment was not returned. Mitchell said nothing as he was led from the special victims unit to face charges in court Friday, but he spat at reporters gathered there.
Saretta Mitchell said she’s not surprised by the latest accusation, but neither she nor his brothers want to talk about Mitchell.
"We want something to be done so he doesn’t hurt anyone else," she said, "but he’s done enough damage to the family already."
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