Thursday, January 18, 2018
Public safety

Homeless man accused of raping woman at knifepoint in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Police have arrested a 26-year-old homeless man who they said kidnapped and raped a woman at knifepoint Sunday night.

They also are investigating whether Steve J. Carvajal, who has an arrest history in Florida dating back to 2006, has attacked other women in the past.

Carvajal came to authorities' attention this past weekend in an unusual way. Officers on patrol spotted him running down the street at about 11:45 p.m. Sunday in the area of 34th Avenue N and 35th Street.

A woman was at his heels. Officer Dale Johnson stopped the pair and asked what was going on. The woman had a shocking story.

"She said she just saw Carvajal raping a woman," police spokesman Mike Puetz said Monday. "So she gave chase."

What's more, police said, the woman said she recognized Carvajal because he'd raped her and other women in the past.

Then, as the officer continued his questioning, a disheveled woman emerged from a nearby alley. She said she'd just been assaulted by a man who confronted her with a knife and then forced her into an alley, where he had sex with her — and used his cellphone to record it. The woman, 42, identified Carvajal as the attacker, police said.

According to an arrest affidavit, Carvajal had told the woman he would "gut her like a pig" if she resisted.

Carvajal was booked into the Pinellas County Jail without bail on charges of armed kidnapping, sexual battery and carrying a concealed weapon.

As to any previous attacks, Puetz said the first woman never called police about her own experience with Carvajal, and there haven't been any recent reports of a serial rapist. Puetz said police are investigating whether other women have been assaulted but have not come forward.

"A lot of these type of sexual assaults go unreported," he said.

Police also are re-examining a July 21 robbery in which a 27-year-old woman said she was going to a gas station to buy cigarettes in the area of 33rd Avenue N and 33rd Street when a man with a knife jumped off a bike and pulled her into an alley. The man took the woman's money and tried to take off her pants. She fought him off and was able to get away, police said.

According to state records, Carvajal's criminal history includes convictions for trespassing, theft and battery.

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