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Judge Denies Recaptured Serial Rape Suspect’s Request for Bail

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

An accused serial rapist who used bedsheets to climb out of jail last week and went on the run for six days asked for bail Tuesday.

Reynaldo E. Rapalo, 34, who authorities call the Shenandoah rapist, did not get his request, made hours after he was recaptured at a west Miami-Dade shopping center.

Rapalo was being held in a maximum-security cell at the Miami-Dade County Jail.

The six-day manhunt for Rapalo ended less than 10 miles from the neighborhoods where he is accused of raping at least seven women and girls since 2002.

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Police said an anonymous tipster told them where Rapalo could be found. The tipster will get a $36,000 reward, police said.

“We knew all along that with the help of the public, we would get this guy,” said Miami Police Chief John F. Timoney.

Rapalo appeared at his bond hearing looking far different than he does on his wanted posters. He was thinner, his hair was combed differently, and he sported a stubbly beard instead of a mustache.

“It is this court’s opinion that you are a danger to this community,” said Circuit Judge Gerald Klein in denying the bail request.

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Rapalo’s attorney, Herbert Smith, said that police kicked and injured Rapalo during the arrest and that he planned to ask for a change of venue.

Rapalo had told at least one inmate that after escaping, he planned to kill the prosecutors on his case and return to his native Honduras, authorities said.

While Rapalo was at large, officers guarded two prosecutors who are handling the case, as well as Miami-Dade State Atty. Katherine Fernandez Rundle.

Police did not release details of where Rapalo may have been while on the loose, but residents and merchants in the Bird Road neighborhood, where he was found, said Tuesday that he had been in the area for a while.

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Police said Rapalo received help escaping and remaining at large. No further arrests had been made late Tuesday.

Rapalo escaped while awaiting a February trial on seven felony counts of sexual battery and other charges that could send him to prison for life. The victims in the case ranged in age from 11 to 79.

Police said Rapalo and a second inmate climbed through a vent in the ceiling of a cell and onto a sixth-floor roof about 9:30 p.m. Dec. 20. A visitor to the jail alerted authorities to the bedsheets about half an hour later. The vent was supposed to be locked but had been pried open, and bars blocking it were cut.

The second inmate was captured outside the jail after breaking his ankles when he jumped to the ground, authorities said.

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