Posted on November 16, 2021

Central Park Rape Suspect, 25, Showed Off His Ankle Monitor on Instagram Before Skipping Court

Andrea Blanco and Keith Griffith, Daily Mail, November 14, 2021

A suspect in a Central Park rape case showed off his ankle monitor on Instagram last month before he cut it off, skipped out on sex charges in Florida and fled to New York, where he allegedly choked and raped a jogger on Thursday.

Paulie Velez, 25, repeatedly posted pictures of himself in front of a full-length mirror on social media, showing the ankle monitor on his left foot.

‘Locked up, they won’t let me out,’ Velez wrote in one of the photos, quoting a line from Akon’s 2003 song ‘Locked up,’ which tells of a drug runner who is in jail.

Paulie Velez

Paulie Velez

Another picture also showing Velez’s ankle monitor is captioned ‘Life is VERY interesting.’

Just five weeks ago, Velez posted another picture of him, this time wearing white tennis shoes and long black pants possibly concealing the monitor. The post, captioned ‘Loving your light, vulnerable / letting your guard down is honorable,’ is the last from his Instagram profile @8uniself8.

Velez is now being held without bond in Rikers Island for allegedly raping a 27-year-old jogger after he managed to dismantle the monitor and fled to New York to continue his violent crime spree, prosecutors said on Saturday.

In Miami-Dade County, Velez had been charged with kidnapping, battery, and sexual assault, but didn’t show up to a status hearing on October 27 after agreeing to the terms of a plea deal.

Authorities believe Velez is responsible for the Thursday morning sexual assault of a female jogger.

Prosecutors alleged that strong evidence showed that Velez committed the Central Park rape, strangling the victim unconscious before sexually assaulting her and stealing her cell phone.

‘The defendant stated he cut off his ankle monitor and fled,’ Assistant District Attorney Jacqueline Studley said at the arraignment, according to the New York Post.

Velez was arraigned on charges of rape, strangulation and robbery on Saturday in Manhattan Criminal Court, where a judge remanded him into custody on Rikers Island.

Velez was arrested early Saturday morning after police say he attempted to sell the victim’s stolen cell phone at a local convenience store.

At arraignment, Velez wore a lavender button-down shirt and blue dress slacks. He did not speak in court, other than to mumble inaudibly and sway back and forth as he faced the judge.

Velez also had an active bench warrant in New York over a December 2019 arrest for stealing two packs of cigarettes from a Midtown 7-Eleven. He also had prior arrests in Las Vegas and Pennsylvania, prosecutors said.

‘The defendant raped a stranger in Central Park, and was captured on video fleeing from the scene and was in possession of the victim’s phone,’ Studley said in court.

Police took Velez into custody in Lower Manhattan just before 1am after receiving a tip from the Crimestoppers hotline.

The suspect – who was caught on surveillance video entering the N and R subway station after the attack – allegedly came up behind the woman near a pond at the southern end of the park, strangled her until she was unconscious and raped her.

He was later caught on camera attempting to sell the victim’s cell phone at a CBD store in Times Square.

‘Yesterday, after the problem he did, he come to the store, he want to sell the phone. Probably the phone – he take it from the girl after he rape her,’ the store clerk told ABC 7, noting that he refused to buy the suspected stolen property.

Velez faces charges of rape, robbery, strangulation, assault, sex abuse and criminal possession of stolen property.

Police said the jogger was running on a foot-path near Swan Lake at 7:20am Thursday when a man dressed in all black, possibly in his 20s, attacked and sexually assaulted her.

She was reportedly knocked to the ground, choked until she passed out and raped.

The victim alerted police after regaining consciousness and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. Police said there would be increased patrols in Central Park.

Security footage released by the New York Police Department Friday shows the suspect, believed to be Velez, wearing black pants, shirt, mask and a baseball cap using an emergency exit to enter a train station, thereby avoiding the fare.

More images released on Friday show the man standing in a bodega with his hands in his pockets.

The attack comes as New York City continues to experience a surge in crime. So far this year, the city has seen 1,216 rapes, about 2.5 per cent more than had been recorded at the same point of 2020.

The Central Park attack took place only 25 minutes before a registered sex offender attempted to rape a woman on Randall’s Island and 45 minutes before another victim was sexually-assaulted in the Manhattan park.

Howard Shaw, 38, was charged over the Randall’s Island assault – which took place two days after he was released from state prison where he was serving a sentence for a 2005 robbery and a rape.

The registered sex offender was jailed in Green Haven Correction Facility in 2005 for raping a 25-year-old woman in Queens while she was taking out the trash.

He approached the victim by asking her for the time before putting his hand around her waist and the other over her mouth as he dragged her toward a stairwell.

There, Shaw choked, punched and then raped her, police said following his arrest on Thursday.

Police said in a briefing on Thursday that Shaw was in custody and still being questioned.

About 45 minutes after the first assault, another woman was walking on a foot path near 103rd street and FDR Drive when she was attacked.

A suspect was arrested over the assault, although police have yet to identify him, or say whether the incidents are connected.

The assaults also came hours after a 13 year-old girl was raped in the Bronx’s Crotona Park as she was heading home from school.

The Bronx incident occurred on Wednesday, at 2:35pm, when an unknown man approached the 13-year-old girl and threw her to the ground.

After the assault, he stole her cell phone and ran off. The teen was taken to a nearby hospital.

Police have released security footage of the alleged perpetrator who was wearing a grey hoody, jeans, black trainers, and carrying a jacket over his left shoulder.

Video shows the suspect sitting on the steps outside a fast-food shop.

Meanwhile, New York City also continues to see a surge in other types of violent crime.

Felony assaults went up from 17,910 last year, to 19,392 this year, and robbery has gone up from 11,104 to 11,340.

While murders dropped from 397 to 407 and shootings fell from 1,632 to 1,610, overall crime is still up 1.73 per cent from last year.

Investigations into the four attacks are ongoing.