NY Daily News
December 27, 2013
While Christmas shopping on Dec. 16, 1989, Julia Ashe lugged an armload of bags out of Bradlees in Waterbury, Conn., and discovered she had a flat tire.
Miraculously, a man appeared and offered to help.
But he was no good Samaritan. He was shopping too, in a sense.
For two days, he had been lurking in his own car in that lot, waiting for lone women shoppers to arrive.
Twice, he used a valve stem remover to deflate a tire on the car of likely victims, then offered to change the flats when they returned from shopping.
The first two potential targets declined his help.
His third target, Ashe, a 22-year-old University of Connecticut student, did not. Who could blame her? It was 18 degrees.
As he slapped on Ashe’s spare tire, the man said his own car had broken down and asked for a lift to a gas station. She agreed.
But once in the car, the man directed Ashe to drive to a wooded pull-off barely a mile from the store, beside a dam on City Mills Pond. Though well-concealed, the spot is a stone’s throw from busy I-84.
As traffic whizzed by, he ordered Ashe into the back seat. He rifled her pocketbook, taking $300, and then raped her.
But the horror was just beginning.
He gagged Ashe and bound her mouth, hands and feet with fiberglass-reinforced tape. He carried her to the dam, then shoved her off the wall. She fell 23 feet and landed on a concrete apron covered with eight inches of water.
Julia Ashe, petite but feisty, would not die easily.
Thrashing in the icy water, she maneuvered her body to a metal shard on the dam and cut her wrists and ankles free, gouging her skin in the frantic process of trying to stay alive. Still gagged and missing a shoe, she moved toward shore.
Her tormentor was waiting there.
He had watched from above as she freed herself, then scrambled down the bank to finish the job.
He seized her by the hair and held her face-down in the water until she stopped kicking.
He returned to Ashe’s car and took clothing that she had purchased as Christmas gifts. He then walked back to Bradlees, got in his car and drove home, pausing at the dam to confirm that his quarry was dead.
Her fiancé reported Ashe missing that night, but her body would lie undiscovered for days.
Meanwhile, detectives in the Waterbury area were closing in on a serial sex fiend.
Sedrick Cobb, 27, of nearby Naugatuck, had been arrested that June in an attempted rape in his hometown.
While that case was pending and Cobb was free, he became a suspect in two more sex assaults, in Naugatuck on Dec. 13 and in adjacent Oxford on Dec. 15.