DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A Detroit man charged in the kidnapping and torture of a woman who was beaten and burned with a blowtorch has been acquitted.
Roderick Neely appeared this week in Wayne County Circuit Court where a jury found him not guilty of all charges, including attempted rape and assault with intent to maim.
In January 2013, a 43-year-old woman had said a man with a gun forced her into a car as she left a gas station in a blighted neighborhood near Plymouth and Meyers on Detroit’s west side.
The woman said her attacker drove for a short time before he parked the car, knocked her out, ripped off her clothes and later burned her feet with a blowtorch. She escaped after hitting him in the eye with a screwdriver.
Neely was arrested two days after the attack during an attempted home invasion. He was being held without bond.
Defense attorney Craig Tank says the woman never appeared on the gas station security camera and DNA didn’t match. The jury also saw medical records which apparently showed that Neely’s eye injury was caused days before the attack by broken glass, not from a screwdriver.
At the time of his arrest, investigators believed Neely was the suspect responsible for attacking women across the city, dubbed the “blow torch rapist.” In July 2013, two women were found just miles apart in vacant fields – both severely beaten and without any clothing.
The first woman was found around 5:50 a.m. July 26 in the 12800 block of Eaton, near Meyers Road and Lyndon Street. Police say the 37-year-old was physically assaulted and had burn marks on her body. Just over 24 hours later, the second woman was found around 7 a.m. July 27 at Elmira and Iris Streets, near Plymouth and Meyers roads. Police say the woman was set on fire and sexually assaulted. Although both women were left in critical condition after the attacks, they survived.
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