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Man arrested in rape of woman in 70s as she took daily walk in north Tampa

Surveillance cameras and DNA testing led deputies to Ron Smith, 42. He asked the woman for money and cigarettes first, Sheriff Chad Chronister said.
Ron Smith, 42, was arrested Thursday. He is accused of raping a woman in her 70s in broad daylight.
Ron Smith, 42, was arrested Thursday. He is accused of raping a woman in her 70s in broad daylight. [ Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office ]
Published Dec. 10, 2021|Updated Dec. 10, 2021

TAMPA — Hillsborough sheriff’s deputies have arrested a man on charges he raped a woman in her 70s who was taking her daily walk in a north Tampa neighborhood.

Ron Smith, 42, was arrested Thursday on charges of armed false imprisonment, robbery with a deadly weapon and two counts of sexual battery with a deadly weapon.

The attack occurred at 9 a.m. on Nov. 27 near the intersection of Central Avenue and Celestial Oaks Drive, off Interstate 275 north of Fletcher Avenue. The woman is in her 70s, said Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister, and was out on a morning walk — something she’d done daily for 40 years.

Chronister said Smith approached the woman and asked her for money and cigarettes. She told him she had neither and continued her walk.

Smith returned shortly after, claimed he had a knife and overpowered the woman. He covered her nose and mouth and assaulted her on the side of the road. The Sheriff’s Office said the area is not heavily traveled by vehicles.

The attack continued for about 15 minutes, the woman told deputies. Smith fled and the woman called 911, Chronister said.

Investigators received DNA samples from the woman and submitted them to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The tests identified Smith as the man responsible for the attack, Chronister said.

Smith, who the Sheriff’s Office says is homeless, was located days later walking on the 4300 block of N Florida Ave. He was arrested there Thursday afternoon.

Deputies say Smith also goes by the name Stephen D. Smith and has a criminal record in New York, Texas and Pennsylvania. He was also arrested earlier this month by Tampa police and accused of robbing a woman of her purse and cellphone at Julian B. Lane Waterfront Park, Chronister said.

Smith was being held without bail Friday at the Hillsborough County Jail.

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