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CANFIELD Council offers up to $10,000 for information in rape case



Published: Tue, May 22, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



A souvenir baseball bat is an 'important link' to the attacker, police say.

By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CANFIELD -- City council is offering a reward of up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the man who beat and raped a Poland woman last November.

The 30-year-old woman was attacked Nov. 27 as she got out of her car to go to work at Schroedel Scullin & amp; Bestic LLC, an accounting firm on North Broad Street. She was beaten with a bat and raped in a wooded area near the business.

Police recently confirmed that a souvenir baseball bat they found the day after the rape is the weapon used in the attack. The bat was found in a yard near North Broad Street.

Council voted to offer the reward during a special meeting this morning. Council President Dennis Wilde said he hoped the reward would give people an incentive to provide information.

Council members expressed hope that the reward would lead to the arrest of the attacker.

Police Chief David Blystone will decide how the reward will be allocated. The money will come from the city's general fund.

Local residents with information about the rape are asked to call (330) 533-4903.

Top priority: Andy Bodzak, a detective sergeant for the Canfield police, said solving the case remains a top priority.

"We will do everything in our power to bring the responsible offender to justice," Bodzak said, adding, "You can never fail unless you stop trying."

Bodzak noted that the identification of the bat provides an "important link" to the attacker. The bat, which is blue and about 30 inches long, is a souvenir that was given to 1,000 people at a Mahoning Valley Scrappers game July 8.

Some of the bats were handed out to children as they entered Cafaro Field. Others were placed in the Cafaro Field luxury boxes.

Police are asking anyone who cannot account for the loss of a souvenir bat they received that day to contact them.

"This is unique, it's not something that 100,000 people can buy at a store," Bodzak said. "We feel very strongly that this is an important link to the suspect."

DNA found on bat: Police sent the bat to an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation crime lab in London for testing. Although the lab didn't find any fingerprints, they learned that DNA from specks of blood on the bat matches the victim's DNA. The lab informed the police of the finding earlier this month.

Bodzak added that police have interviewed hundreds of potential witnesses and tested several pieces of evidence as part of the investigation. He said that although police feel the attack was not random, they are not sure if the woman knew her attacker.

"When she arrived for work, he was waiting for her," Bodzak said.

The attacker is described as a white male of medium height and build. He wore a ski mask, gloves and dark clothing .

Both Bodzak and Blystone said that the attack has shaken the sense of security some residents feel in this typically quiet town.

"This is certainly a crime that is unusual in our community, certainly a heinous crime," Blystone said.

hill@vindy.com




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