By Matt Sharpe -Upson Beacon
A female victim from a 2002 armed robbery and rape case in Thomaston is getting closure following a court proceeding last week in Upson Superior Court.
Travis Montel Searcy, of Thomaston, pled guilty to rape and received a life sentence. The sentence stipulates that Searcy will serve 20 years in prison, and once released, he will remain on probation for the rest of his life.
Searcy was arrested in October of 2016 by Investigators with the Thomaston Police Department in connection with the 2002 armed robbery and rape case.
New DNA evidence obtained by the GBI linked Searcy to evidence from the 14-year-old Thomaston cold case.
“Fourteen years ago I was at a laundromat in Thomaston and was robbed and raped at gunpoint,” said the victim. “It took many years for him to be caught. Thanks to a great detective who never gave up on my case, and a district attorney who listened, today my rapist was sentenced to 20 years in prison and the rest of his life on probation. Thank you Detective Tim Ledbetter for fighting for me. You promised me you wouldn’t give up until he was put away… and you didn’t. To have someone do that to you leaves a forever mark. I don’t have to be scared of him finding me. Rape is a horrible crime. You never fully recover from it. I have carried this pain for 14 years. Although I wish he would of have received more time in jail, it’s finally over. I can heal now.”
According to a press release from TPD Chief Michael Richardson, the case occurred Aug. 2, 2002 shortly after midnight when an unidentified black male entered the Spin Cycle Laundromat located on Barnesville Street armed with a pistol and robbed a female victim then forced her into a bathroom where he sexually assaulted her. The offender then forced the victim back into the lobby where he sexually assaulted the victim again before fleeing the scene on foot. The suspect was never located.
“The night of the incident Detective Tim Ledbetter responded to the scene and took over the investigation,” said Richardson. “During the investigation a sexual assault kit was performed at the Upson Regional Medical Center on the victim and was sent to the G.B.I. Crime Lab to be examined for DNA evidence. There were no known DNA matches at that time and as a result the case went cold.”
On Sept. 14, 2016, Sgt. Ledbetter was notified by the G.B.I. Crime lab that a CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) match was located for the DNA profile that was removed from the sexual assault kit submitted in 2002. The CODIS match came back to Travis Montel Searcy, of Thomaston.
“Mr. Searcy was entered into the CODIS system as result of an unrelated arrest in 2009. Based on this new information the robbery/rape case was re-opened by the Thomaston Police Department. Shortly after re-opening the case Sgt. Ledbetter obtained arrests warrants for Searcy,” he said.
“On September 29, Searcy reported to his probation office in Thomaston at which time he was advised by Sgt. Ledbetter that he was under arrest for the 2002 robbery and rape that occurred at the Spin Cycle Laundromat. During the interview Searcy managed to flee the scene on foot knocking a citizen down as he fled. TPD and Probation officers were unable to locate Searcy at that time.
On Monday, October 3, 2016 TPD officers with the assistance of the U.S. Marshalls Southeast Metro Fugitive Task Force out of Macon, Georgia were able to track Searcy to a house in the 500 block of East Main Street at which time Searcy was found hiding in a closet. He was taken into custody without incident. An additional arrest of a female was made for harboring a fugitive at the time of Searcy's arrest.”