The 42-year-old West Virginia man accused of brutally beating and raping a 73-year old birdwatcher in Central Park had a long history of battering elderly women.
He was even charged with killing one, when he was just 18. And now come reports he may be tied to the 2002 death of another senior citizen in the South.
David Albert Mitchell was accused in the late 1980’s of sexually assaulting and beating to death 87 year old Annie Parks, after he broke into her West Virginia home. But a jury refused to convict him. It wasn’t long before a teenaged Mitchell was accused again of raping a senior citizen, a woman in her 70’s. He did eight years in prison for that crime.
Mitchell went to prison in Virginia in 2003, after he was convicted of kidnapping his sister-in-law, a woman he used to date. After he was paroled, he was in and out of jail for various violations, until he came to New York a few months ago.
Some of the regulars at Strawberry Fields, at 72nd Street in Central Park, told PIX 11 they first noticed Mitchell hanging around in early August. “Originally, he told everybody his name was Keith,” said Gary Dos Santos, Jr.—who calls himself the “Mayor of Strawberry Fields.” Dos Santos claims Mitchell bragged that he started a chapter of the Aryan Nation and talked about having killed people. A regular named Anthony told PIX he noticed the teardrop tattoos under Mitchell’s eye. “He said he killed three people, because his sister got raped,” Anthony said. Anthony didn’t want to give his last name. He claimed that Mitchell also tried to rape a middle-aged Brooklyn woman who hung out at the park and even made advances toward a young man.
Dos Santos told us he sometimes smokes marijuana with some of the park regulars but didn’t want to share a joint with Mitchell—or let Mitchell use his nearby apartment for a shower.
“He was a crazy person and I knew he was taking a ‘crazy’ pill,” Dos Santos said. He claims Mitchell pulled a six inch shank on him, back on August 20th. “He said I have no problem plugging this in you in front of all these people and filling the circle with blood,” referring to the Imagine circle that’s dedicated to the memory of the late John Lennon.
Dos Santos said he stopped hanging around in the park after that, giving a report to police about the attempted stabbing. Mitchell apparently remained at the park, until a female birdwatcher had the misfortune of running into him a week ago. She inadvertently caught him masturbating on camera. Enraged, Mitchell tried to take the camera chip, but the woman refused.
When the birdwatcher returned to the area this Wednesday, on a path behind bushes in Strawberry Fields, Mitchell allegedly jumped her and said, “You remember me?” The victim later told cops he dragged her into the brush and raped her.
Police found surveillance footage of a man leaving the park with the victim’s backpack. Mitchell was arrested Thursday near West 77th Street by three, alert rookie police officers.
When Mitchell was walked out of the NYPD’s Special Victims Squad, he spit and cursed at reporters. He will likely be doing his spitting from a jail cell for quite some time. One of the other regulars in Strawberry Fields, Paul Fitterman, said Friday, “Where he is now—in jail—is the right place for him. Nobody deserves to be raped. Nobody deserves what he put these people through.”