WOODLAWN, Md. — In a widely-circulated photo from an MTA bus, you can see the man was old enough to be the teenage girl’s grandfather and his kindly offer to walk her to a friend’s house when she got off the bus late at night must have seemed genuine.
“You do meet a lot of people when you’re traveling, but you still have to be a little skeptical sometimes, especially late at night, because if you don’t know the person, don’t get to close to them,” said Colleen Williams, a longtime MTA passenger.
When the bus stopped on Woodlawn Avenue, the teen and the man who was nearly half-a-century her senior headed towards a wooded shortcut through Woodlawn Memorial Park.
“During that time, he pulled out a gun. He forced her to the ground and that’s what initiated the sexual assault,” said Det. Robert Reason of the Baltimore County Police Department.
After violating the teen, the suspect snapped a nude picture of her and took her clothing, dropping the garments as he fled.
Once his photo from an MTA bus was released, a tipster identified the suspect as 67-year-old Gregory Lee Hightower who had been living with a niece in Baltimore since his release from prison for committing a very similar rape decades earlier.
“You would think it would have helped him realize, ‘Don’t do this anymore, because you know what happened the first time,” said Williams, “Evidently, it didn’t help him that much.”
Hightower is being held with no bond facing a series of charges including First Degree Rape and First and Second Degree Assault.