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Possible suspect arrested in Fort Valley rapes, break-ins




UPDATE, 5/17/15 6 p.m.:

Fort Valley's police chief says they've arrested a possible suspect in a series of recent break-ins and rapes.

That's according to a news release posted to Facebook Sunday morning.

Chief Lawrence Spurgeon said the man was arrested outside a home on Persons Street around midnight, after a call about a suspicious person outside a home.

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Reward up to $10K being offered in Fort Valley rape cases


Toni Gibson manages a beauty store in downtown Fort Valley. She says after two strings of rapes and break-ins happened in the area, people are worried.

"Everybody knows everyone, and so, if something happens we can normally say 'Oh that person did it, or that person did it,' said Gibson, "But, in this situation, in this instance, we can't say that."

In hopes of catching the culprit, the FBI and the Peach County Sexual Assault Task Force says they're increasing the reward
up to $10,000 for information leading to the arrest of the suspect.

Earlier this month, local authorities offered $2,500, but on Thursday, the FBI increased that by $7,500. Gibson likes the idea, but hopes the larger amount doesn't hinder the case instead of help solve it.

"While the $10,000 is good, I think it would turn into like a witch hunt," she said.

Free women's self defense class to be held in Fort Valley

Free women's self defense class to be held in Fort Valley

If you're looking to learn some self-defense moves, a free class will be held Saturday in Fort Valley.

According to a Peach County Chamber of Commerce news release, it will be held at the Austin Theater, located at 116 E Main St., in Fort Valley from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. 

HODAC is partnering with the Fort Valley Public Safety Department to hold the workshop in Fort Valley. The organization "Fight Like a Woman" holds free self-defense classes for women monthly. According to the release, the workship will provide women with skills, training and a sense of empowerment. The instructors, Sensei Moodie and Sensei Warren, have experience in Karate, Taekwon Do and Judo combined.

Women who attend must wear tennis shoes and comfortable exercise clothes.

Eight arrested in illegal gambling raid


Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese confirmed two more people have been arrested in a recent illegal gambling case that involved seven businesses in Byron and one in Roberta.

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Deese said Pankajkumar Patel and Gloria Holmes were booked after turning themselves in Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, six other business owners and employees were scheduled in court Thursday.

Investigators said they found the businesses running illegal gambling operations.

Around 40 people who were either employees or family members of the defendants filled the courtroom.

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Worshipers pray for capture of Fort Valley rapist


People in Fort Valley united Thursday evening for a special worship service in the wake of recent crimes.

Over the past month, we've reported about the various rapes and attempted rapes in the city.

So far three women reported they've been raped. Four more said they struggled with a man that tried to rape them.

The pews at Greater Cathedral of Praise were full of students and members of the community who said they're turning to their faith in hopes of bringing justice and peace.

"God has not left Fort Valley. We're here. We're staying and we're taking the proper action. It's just about taking back our city and letting the criminals and people who have just been hurting God's people know that we're not afraid, we're not alone," said Fort Valley State student Tamarah Richardson.

Senior Pastor Timothy Deas says despite the crime, they're not hiding in fear.

Crimestoppers reward offered for Fort Valley rapist arrest


The Peach County Sexual Assault Task Force plans to offer a reward for information on the suspect in a string of rapes and break-ins in Fort Valley.

The task force made up of the Peach County Sheriff's Office, Fort Valley police, Fort Valley State police, and the GBI is holding a news conference Monday at 2 p.m. at the Macon Regional Crimestoppers Office.

In early April, five homes were broken into, two women were raped, and three struggled with a suspect before he took off. Last week, there was one attempted rape, one rape, and five break-ins all within three days.

FVSU: Women can move onto campus due to rape cases


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Fort Valley State University says it's opening its campus housing to female students who live off campus for the rest of the school year, due to a recent string of rapes and break-ins.

That's according to university spokeswoman Pamela Berry Johnson.
She said the housing is free for women who don't feel safe off campus.

The school's graduation is tomorrow and other students are scheduled to leave campus May 11.

Fort Valley State University's Student Government Association created a safety app.

It alerts up to 6 people in the case of an emergency.