O’FALLON, MO. (KPLR) – A frightening rape case out of O’Fallon, Missouri, Wednesday. Police said the suspect worked for a cable company; the victim was a customer.
Police said there was no indication the suspect had done attacked a woman prior to Wednesday, but investigators were certainly looking into that possibility.
Police said a man was on the phone with his girlfriend around 12:40 Wednesday morning; she lived at the Southernside apartments; the man heard some sign of trouble over the phone and called police.
‘We received a call for `check the well-being`,’ said Officer Diana Damke of the O`Fallon, MO, Police Department.
‘They ended up finding the victim inside the apartment. The suspect had apparently just ran out the back; went out the sliding glass door and jumped down from the second floor balcony,’ Damke said.
Police found the victim, bound and gagged; she`d been raped.
‘She was treated and released but I`m sure there will be serious effects on her for a long time,’ Damke said.
A manhunt for the suspect ensued. After a couple hours police tracked down him down near a wooded area, not far from the apartments.
The details very unsettling for residents of the apartment complex.
‘I didn`t know about any of that…wow,’ said resident, Kristen Phillips. She said she had second thoughts about her own recent in-home visit from a cable-satellite worker.
‘Definitely don`t do it alone. When we had our installation my fiancé was there. It`s definitely not a safe thing to let someone into your home who you don`t know, when you`re alone, ever…it did kind of shock me that someone did call and wanted to do a follow up just to see if things were installed properly. It wasn`t the same guy. He was very adamant about, `well if you`re not available today, can I come tomorrow?`’
James Helderle, 21, of St. Charles was locked up on charges including robbery, burglary, felonious restraint, forcible sodomy-deviate sexual intercourse, and armed criminal action.
Police said the attack was not totally random; he`d targeted the victim.
‘Actually, he was not a stranger. She had met him when he had responded to her house the day before. He was an employee of Charter Cable,’ Damke said.
A Charter spokeswoman said Helderle was a 3rd party contractor for Charter.
The spokeswoman released the following statement:
‘The incident involving one of our customers is upsetting and unacceptable. Charter recognizes that it is a privilege to be allowed into customers` homes to install our services. Our customer`s safety is of utmost importance and precautions are taken seriously. We require criminal background checks on all in-home contractors prior to performing any work for Charter. We are cooperating fully with the O`Fallon Police Department and will do everything possible to aid in this investigation.’
Helderle remained locked up on a $500,000 bond Wednesday night.