More information has been revealed about David Mitchell, the 42-year-old homeless "drifter" accused of raping a 73-year-old woman in Central Park on Wednesday. Mitchell, who has been charged with predatory sexual assault, rape, criminal sex act and robbery assault for the recent attack, confessed to raping and killing an 83-year-old West Virginian woman over two decades ago. And he also allegedly bragged to a former girlfriend about getting away with that and one other murder: "In a social setting, when there's alcohol involved, he will tell you anything," Saretta Mitchell told The AP. "He bragged to me and some of our friends at different times that he had murdered two people."
In 1990, Mitchell was on trial for the rape and murder of 83-year-old neighbor Annie Parks. “I told her I wanted to f--- her. Annie said, ‘No I won’t.’ I said we were going to do it anyway and I walked over and grabbed her and pulled [her dress] over her body and threw it over my shoulder,” then 18-year-old Mitchell said in his confession. “Annie then hit me in the face and I hit her in the face with my fist four or five times and then got on top of her and f----- her. She was bleeding from the nose.”
He allegedly bludgeoned her to death with a tire iron after the rape. Prosecutors insisted on going to trial to get a first-degree murder charge, for which he would have faced life in jail. Despite his confession, a psychiatrist testified that his IQ was so low he couldn’t have given the statement or understood his Miranda rights. He was ultimately acquitted as a result.
But this was just the start of his criminal career; neighbors told AP that he terrorized residents around the small town of Jenkinjones in West Virginia, preying on elderly women there for years:
Although Mitchell was acquitted in that case, he was arrested again a few months later, charged with raping another Jenkinjones resident who was in her 70s and stealing her gun.
Prosecutors dropped the sexual assault charge in that case under a plea bargain, Sid Bell, then Mitchell's attorney and now the county prosecutor, told The Charleston Gazette.
Mitchell escaped for two days while serving that sentence, West Virginia Division of Corrections spokeswoman Susan Harding said, and was then convicted of the escape.
He was released from the Mount Olive Correctional Center in February 2000, Harding said, but incarcerated again in December 2000 on a grand larceny charge. He finished that sentence in 2001.
About a year later, 54-year-old Barbara Flake went missing from Jenkinjones, and some suspected Mitchell. When Flake's skull turned up two years later, ex-girlfriend Saretta Mitchell went to police with a shocking claim: David Mitchell had confessed to the killing.
Mitchell served eight years at Red Onion State Prison for attempting to kidnap Saretta Mitchell around that time. She noted that Mitchell has "always had psychological issues and emotional problems," adding: "We want something to be done so he doesn't hurt anyone else, but he's done enough damage to the family already."
Neighbor Wayne Mitchell, no relation to the suspect, said locals started buying guns to protect themselves last year after Mitchell was let out of prison. "They ain't gonna trust him down here again. They're gonna end up killing him," he told AP. "To be honest with you, he needs to be put away for life."