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Rapist's past crimes shielded by law

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    Jeremy Quinn, Jr., is interviewed at the Lucas County jail, where he is being held after being found guilty on six counts of rape and one count of kidnapping in the assault of a 16-year-old girl.

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    Jeremy Quinn is handed court documents during his arraignment in Sylvania Muncipal Court in July. The rape in which he was charged occurred just four days after his release from prison.

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    Judge James Jensen presided over the trial of Jeremy Quinn in the rape and kidnapping of a Sylvania Township girl.

He was there.

Just inches from her face. Glaring. With a knife.

It was a sticky July afternoon - hot and still. The 16-year-old girl had noticed no one seconds earlier as she climbed into her car to drive to work. The driveway had been empty. And uncharacteristically for this Sylvania Township neighborhood of tidy lawns near Bancroft Street and Centennial Road, the streets now were empty.

She'd thrown her purse and cell phone on the passenger's seat, and turned back to close the driver's door behind her.

That's when she saw him.

"Move over," he sneered, "or I'll kill you."

At that moment, she steeled herself: "I said, 'I'll do whatever you want. Just don't kill me.'"

She choked back panic and pain as Jeremy Quinn, Jr., forced her under the dashboard, jumped in the driver's seat, and jammed the car in reverse. He backed out of the driveway, hitting a neighbor's car.

Driving to a wooded area, he raped her repeatedly - the July 18 attack so brutal and prolonged that he faces 70 years in prison when he appears before Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge James Jensen for sentencing Dec. 9. He was convicted on Nov. 15 on six counts of rape and one count of kidnapping.

But as shocking as the assault was, the teenage victim, her family and friends, and others in the neighborhood were even more infuriated over what they learned in the days afterward:

Authorities knew about the now 23-year-old Quinn's violent past long before the attack.

Investigators knew that in 1996, at the age of 13, Quinn had held a steak knife to a woman's throat while he raped her repeatedly. Three weeksbefore that rape, he'd attacked another woman with a tire iron, warning: "I'll kill you if you don't listen to me."

Later that same summer, he'd sneaked into a woman's bedroom with a 5-inch steak knife in the middle of the night, raping her as her children slept.

Sent away to a juvenile prison, they knew he'd attacked a guard in 1997, wrapping a pillow around her head and dragging her to an empty cell before he was confronted by other guards.

There was the girl who came home one night and found a boy that she later identified as Quinn hiding under her bed. There was a string of burglaries and Peeping-Tom reports that investigators had suspected was Quinn, but lacked evidence to prosecute.

And they had figured Quinn as the prime suspect in another rape in 1996 - one in which the rapist forced the victim's child into a closet as the young mother slept nearby. When the mother awoke in the dark room, the assailant was there and forced himself on her with a knife.

"This guy was a vicious, vicious individual," said now-retired Toledo police detective Dave Mullin, who helped investigate the 1996 crimes.

In fact, less than 48 hours before the rape of the Sylvania Township teen four months ago, Lucas County sheriff's deputies waited overnight at the home of Philip Buerk, whose property backs up to that of the Dorr Street home of Quinn's parents. Deputies were waiting because they believed Quinn, who had just been released from prison days before, was behind a recent string of break-ins there. No one showed.


Jeremy Quinn is handed court documents during his arraignment in Sylvania Muncipal Court in July. The rape in which he was charged occurred just four days after his release from prison.


But most of the Quinn family's neighbors didn't know about Jeremy's past. They received no phone calls or anything else warning them to be on the look- out when he was released from prison.

"I was furious," recalled Darlene Eulex, who runs a day care at her home on Dorr Street. Her teenage daughter was sunbathing in the backyard the same day Quinn apparently cut through backyards with his bike and eventually rode to the home of the Sylvania Township teen.

Ms. Eulex wasn't the only one who was mad about the discovery.

A small-business owner was just 17 years old in 1996 when Quinn beat her with a tire iron after she stepped into her car. For months afterwards, she forced her mother to stand in the bathroom when she took a shower - too terrified of being alone.

"After it happened to me, I was mad," she said. "I was more furious after what happened [in July,]" she said. 'I thought, 'How can he be out? How can he be able to do this again?' "

Last week, Lucas County Common Pleas Court jurors couldn't hear of Quinn's past because Ohio's rules of evidence generally don't allow convictions for past crimes to be used to prove a pending charge.

In an interview with Quinn at the Lucas County jail following his conviction last week, he admitted he raped two women when he was 13, but still maintained he had not raped the Sylvania Township teen. Asked why he had raped the other two women, he replied:

"That is a question I still don't know Ain't no justification about it to say why I did it. It is something that I truly regret to this day," he said. "Because that stuff what I did when I was 13, it has been the cause of my pain to get blamed for every crime in the neighborhood."

But on a sweltering afternoon four months ago, under the towering oaks in western Lucas County, a terrified teenager said she was simply trying to stay alive as Quinn was assaulting her.

Across town, her younger sister - uneasy that her 16-year-old sister hadn't shown up for work - dialed her phone.

No answer. The sister called their mother, their friends. They too sensed something was wrong.


Judge James Jensen presided over the trial of Jeremy Quinn in the rape and kidnapping of a Sylvania Township girl.


So as she was being attacked in her car, the teenager's cell phone began to ring with the different ring tones from her mother, her sister, her friends.

"Pick up the phone," her assailant said, "and I'll kill you."

She complied, concentrating instead at the attacker's tattoo: a snarling bull mastiff dog, bursting forth from his chest. "Fear me or feel me."

Quinn said later in The Blade interview that the tattoo was his first and that he got it because it commands respect. "If you see a dog, a bull mastiff, you respect it because you know how powerful it is. You know how strong and capable it is. The fear part is you don't want to get on its bad side."

The teenager said she feared exactly that as Quinn raped her.

"I didn't know if I was going to live," the teenager said, "but I thought if I [do], I'll have to describe him when I [get] home. I just stared at the tattoo. Just stared."

On the floor, her cell phone kept ringing.

Standing in a Lucas County juvenile courtroom in 1996, Quinn - then just 5 feet, 6 inches tall, and 135 pounds - seemed an unlikely suspect behind a string of brutal attacks.

The sixth-grader faced a mountain of DNA evidence and victim testimony. But there was something that worked in his favor. He was 13, and that meant he was too young to be tried as an adult.

Finding him delinquent of kidnapping and rape charges, Judge James Ray ordered him sent to an Ohio Department of Youth Services prison, which by Ohio law can hold a juvenile until age 21.

"It was terrifying. You knew he'd get out," Detective Mullin said. "I just kept thinking, next time he's not going to leave witnesses."

Behind bars, Quinn argued with staff, fought with other delinquents, and refused to take part in sex offender treatment. On Feb. 26, 1997, just months after he was sent to juvenile prison, Quinn assaulted a guard. He was found delinquent of the assault, but the state still would have to release him on his 21st birthday.

At least 11 times in the next seven years, Quinn wrote to Judge Ray, begging to return home even while his discipline record at the juvenile lock-up grew. Judge Ray, who knew of Quinn's behavioral reports, repeatedly denied his early release.

"For the sake of the community in which you live and for your own sake, I hope and pray that you will make the necessary corrections," Judge Ray replied to Quinn in one letter.

On Oct. 22, 2003 - Quinn's 21st birthday - the state could keep him no longer. He was released and returned to his parents' brick home on Dorr Street. There'd be no parole or probation officer to check on him.

Quinn also would not be on Ohio's sex offender registry because the way it was originally written, juveniles are not listed. There would be no flyers or phone calls to warn neighbors.

But when someone started slitting screens and breaking into nearby homes months later, rifling purses and wallets even while the residents slept, investigators immediately began focusing on Quinn.

What they didn't have was eyewitnesses or forensic evidence, Lucas County Sheriff's Detective Cathy Stooksbury said.

"It was really frustrating," she said.

A break came May 27, 2004, when a Holland area couple readied for work. The husband had noticed a white Cadillac outside that morning, but assumed it was a friend of his neighbor.

Minutes later, the woman confronted Quinn as she stepped into her garage. She screamed and her husband came running. Quinn jumped into the Cadillac and slammed it into reverse, snapping off a mailbox post as he drove away.

When they called 911, the couple had a license number: the car belonged to Quinn's mother, and the woman who'd confronted him in her garage picked him out of a photo lineup.

Using that and a menacing charge against him, Quinn was convicted again and put behind bars for another 13 months. He was released on July 14, having served his full sentence.

That night, someone stole Mr. Buerk's truck out of his driveway. The next night, someone kicked in the garage door at their property, which touches the Quinn property in the back.

On July 16, just 48 hours after Quinn was released from prison, sheriff's deputies waited all night in the pitch black of the Buerk home, hoping they'd catch their suspect: Quinn. He didn't show.

"The awful part is that they said [then], 'We've done all we can do. We have to catch him doing something,' " Mr. Buerk said.

The following Monday morning, July 18, Mrs. Buerk asked her husband if he thought it was safe for her to take a walk.

"I said, 'Go walk. We have to live our lives,' " he recalled. "But at the same time, I'm still thinking: 'What the heck are we going to do?' "

In the same neighborhood where Debra Buerk walked that morning, another woman stepped out to get her mail. Quinn bicycled past. He glared at her, she said, prompting her for a moment to consider calling police.

"But what am I going to say?" she thought later.

She didn't know Quinn or his past.

At 4:15 p.m. that day, a 16-year-old girl stepped out of her family's empty house, purse and cell phone in hand, and climbed into her car.

More than an hour later, Quinn took a sweatshirt from the backseat, wiped down the steering wheel and dashboard, and stepped from the car.

He turned to his stunned victim. "He said, 'I bet you didn't think this would happen to you,' " she recalled.

Once a standout student and athlete, the teen now speaks slowly about the attack. She has dropped out of school for now and will take classes at home by computer.

In the last few weeks, she has been able to stay at home by herself, but only in the day and only for short periods of time.

"You'll never get over it, but I think there will be a time when I no longer think about it every day," she said.

Her mother sits with her at the family's dining room table - they moved days after the attack - growing more incensed as she speaks of Quinn and his damage.

She understands the legalities of why Quinn was allowed his freedom.

"But that's the law protecting him," she said. "All it did was put him back on the streets, and look what happened."

A next-door neighbor, the woman who had noticed Quinn glaring at her on the day of the attack, is equally angry. She was the one who called 911 when the disheveled, panicked girl came running toward her.

She heard the girl describe the brutal attack to a Sylvania Township dispatcher and watched as the sobbing teen picked Quinn out of a photo array, then vomited.

"If someone had told me that day [to be on the lookout], I would have noticed him. I would have called police," she said. "... I didn't know what we all do now."

"This shouldn't have happened," Sylvania Township Detective Bob Colwell said.

Detective Mullin, the retired officer who first put Quinn behind bars, is equally frustrated, but he also sees the limits of the system.

"You could see it was going to [happen]," he said. "But what else could have been done? [Deputies] were sitting on him. They were watching.

"But there's only so many cops and you can't baby-sit everyone who gets out."

Contact Robin Erb at: or 419-724-6133.

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