DC Sex Assault Suspect Walked Away From Halfway House

The suspect in at least five attacks on women in D.C. began his crime spree the day he walked away from a halfway house, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said, noting that convicted criminals in "alternative incarceration" are committing a growing number of crimes.

Melvin Dehardt Latney attempted to sexually assault and rob five women starting Nov. 24, the day he left the halfway house.

According to police, Latney, 25, struck a woman in the head, knocked her to the ground, touched her inappropriately and took her bag about 10:30 p.m. Nov. 24 on a popular path in the 200 block of 8th Street SE.

Latney also is suspected of a robbery about 9:15 p.m. Nov. 25 in the 1300 block of Ives Street SE, and another in the 900 block of East Capitol Street NE about 10:35 p.m. Dec. 1.

Then Dec. 22, a woman walking in the 100 block of Seaton Place NW in the Bloomingdale neighborhood about 7 p.m. was pushed down a lower-level stairway by a man who threatened to kill her and tried to rip off her shirt. He put her in a chokehold and threatened he had a gun. When another woman passed by and screamed, the man ran away with the victim's cash, credit cards and keys to her home. Police said Latney is the culprit.

The most recent assault Latney is accused of was in the 700 block of H Street NE about 1 a.m. Dec. 31, police said. 

Surveillance video from four of the five cases helped police identify Latney. Court records show he was living in a halfway house as part of his sentence for assaulting a police officer in 2014.

Convicted criminals in "alternative incarceration" are committing new crimes, the D.C. police chief said.

People in "group homes, halfway homes, community placement with GPS tracking devices -- It is those folks we are seeing that are increasingly being involved in crime," Lanier said.

Last month, a man who apparently had cut off his GPS ankle monitor while on probation was charged with sexually assaulting a young mother in her home in the Hill East neighborhood of Southeast D.C. Antwon Pitt, 21, committed a string of crimes over two weeks, police said.

Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Denise Krepp, who represents the neighborhood where the violent Oct. 13 attack occurred, said she's outraged violent people are on the streets.

"How many other people have done this same thing?" she said.

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