• Police arrest man accused in 1981 sexual assault cold case

    By: Mark Becker, WSOCTV.com

    Updated:

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department charged a man in connection with two 38-year-old sexual assault cold cases.

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    Johnny Ealey, 64, was charged with first-degree rape, second degree-rape, and two counts of burglary.

    Police said there were several burglaries around Beatties Ford Road in the summer of 1981 whenvictims were awakened and sexually assaulted by a suspect armed with a knife.

    On May 6, 1981, a woman said she was sexually assaulted by a man who had broken into her home armed with a knife. After the assault, the suspect reportedly cut the phone line and fled from the scene.

    Nearly two months later, another woman said she was asleep in her home when a man broke in and sexually assaulted her while armed with a knife.

    One of the victims has since passed away. Police said the other woman was ecstatic when told about Ealey’s arrest.

    Tenille Banner, who works for Safe Alliance, said she counsels victims who are waiting for answers, but the shadows of fear can linger in communities, as well. 

    "Any step forward when you're seeking justice is another step toward healing," Banner said. 

    Robert Davis said he has lived off Camp Greene Street since 1985 and said Ealey's arrest is good news. 

    "It's got to be a help because in one way, it's closure. It's got to be a help," Davis said 

    The evidence collected in both cases was originally analyzed in 1981. Additional testing from 2014 and 2016 identified Ealey as a suspect.

    At a news conference Friday, Sgt. Darrell Price said there’s no question in his mind that Ealey is a dangerous man.

    "He is definitely a predatory sex offender. I would even go so far as to say he’s a serial rapist. He has committed sex crimes across at least two states," Price said.

    Police said Ealey had also committed a rape in Georgia and had spent time in prison there.

    Officers are convinced he has committed at least five rapes in Charlotte and could possibly be tied to two more, but at this point they had the evidence to charge him with two cases.

    Three additional cases from 1981 are currently being reviewed.

    According to officials, Ealey was arrested Tuesday by his parole officer in Georgia and will be extradited to North Carolina. 

    Anyone with information concerning this suspect, these two cases or any other sexual assault case is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

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