In the days leading to his arrest, suspected rapist Ralph DiMassi was reportedly sleeping in Dyker Park and may have been responsible for several chain-snatchings in Bay Ridge at the same time he attacked a woman on Fort Hamilton Parkway, police officials alleged.
News of his time in the neighborhood was brought to light last week as prosecutors begin to build a case against the convicted robber-turned renegade rapist and the cops who arrested him were congratulated for their sharp investigative skills.
Yet in the end it was the loose lips of a shoplifter in Staten Island who had dealings with DiMassi that led police to their man, officials alleged.
“A detective in Staten Island called us and explained that he had a shoplifter who says that he knows a guy who did something bad in Bay Ridge and that he might be in Dyker Park,” Deputy Inspector Eric Rodriguez said as his cops were honored for making the arrest at the Rex Manor Tuesday. “I sent my guys over there to look for evidence – an encampment, some food, anything.”
The officers were scouting out the area when DiMassi boldly approached them on a bike, wondering what the plain-clothes officers were looking for.
“He was wearing the exact boots, jeans and shirt the suspect had worn on the day of the rape,” said Rodriguez.
His officers backed away, but started to follow DiMassi, ultimately taking him into custody when he allegedly tried to break into a house on 83rd Street.
When they took him into custody, they found two screwdrivers on him – the exact weapon the rapist used when he grabbed his 39-year-old victim outside of the Fort Hamilton Parkway building near 93rd Street back on September 17, police alleged.
His victim told police that she was on her way to work when DiMassi hit her in the head with a screwdriver and dragged her into the basement of the building, where the sexual assault took place, officials alleged.
The victim told neighbors that DiMassi allegedly apologized for what he did as he was getting up to leave.
“I’m sorry. I’m going through some hard times. I didn’t mean to do this,” he allegedly said.
He also made a sign of the cross before running off down Fort Hamilton Parkway, running right past a building surveillance camera, officials alleged.
While DiMassi fit the description of the rapist, the parolee didn’t make it easy for investigators.
He originally gave them a fake name and had no identification to back his claims, officials alleged.
Cops were running down that name when the shoplifter connected them with more information about DiMassi’s ID, which he had reportedly sold for crack, alleged police.
Investigators got their hands on the ID and checked out his name, only to find that he was wanted for a car-jacking in New Jersey, police alleged.
Police also believe that DiMassi may allegedly be responsible for a rash of chain-snatchings in the neighborhood in recent weeks.
“Once he was arrested, the chain snatches stopped,” said one police source. “We can’t connect him to the crimes, but it’s pretty possible that he was responsible.”
Prosecutors said that DiMassi, who was just set free in June after 12 years in prison for a robbery he committed in Bensonhurst, is currently facing charges for the rape as well as the New Jersey car-jacking.
Investigators do not believe that he specifically targeted the woman he allegedly attacked.
“He was stealing out of Brooklyn and Staten Island at the time to support his drug habit,” the police source said. “We believe that he was in the back of the building when the woman walked out and he decided to do what he did.”
“It could have been anyone,” the source said.