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Bragg soldier 'person of interest' in Fayetteville rape cases

Posted February 2, 2010

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— Police on Tuesday named a Fort Bragg soldier charged with two burglaries and a sexual assault on post a "person of interest" in a string of rape cases in Fayetteville.

Army investigators said late Monday that they charged Spc. Aaron Michael Pernell, 22, of 500 Regency Drive, in the burglaries and sexual assault on post. The alleged crimes occurred in December in the Ste. Mere Eglise neighborhood, authorities said.

Fayetteville serial rapist crime map Authorities comparing evidence in rape cases

Although Fayetteville Police Chief Tom Bergamine said in a statement that police would know in seven to 10 days whether Pernell was linked to any local crimes, one of the lead investigators in the case issued a caveat on that time frame Tuesday.

"That's just giving a time-line for when we are hoping to have some additional information. There is no guarantee that in seven to 10 days we will," Sgt. Pam Brewington said.

Pernell, a member of 1st Battalion, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, is an infantryman who fires mortars.

Fayetteville police charged him in September with breaking into another home, where a mother and child were inside. No one was injured in that incident, and Pernell was released on bond.

Maj. Brian Fickel, spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division, said Army investigators apprehended Pernell on Friday and, after questioning him, filed charges on Monday. He declined to disclose the evidence that led to Pernell's arrest or to discuss any possible links to the Fayetteville rapes.

Six women in Fayetteville and a seventh in Hope Mills reported being sexually assaulted since late June. In each case, the victim said a man broke her home – usually an apartment – late at night while she was alone, according to police reports. In an eighth case, a burglar tried to sexually assault a Fayetteville woman before fleeing.

Special Agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command said they are working "very closely" with the Fayetteville Police Department in the case.

Army Maj. Brian Fickel, spokesman for 82nd Airborne Division Web only: Army discusses sex assault arrest

"The safety and welfare of our family members is our highest priority, especially with so many of our troops deployed," Fickel said . "We want our families to know we're working around the clock to ensure their safety and that Fort Bragg is a safe place to live."

Brewington said she doesn't know whether the time frame outlined by Bergamine would allow for the testing of any DNA evidence.

"I have not heard of a DNA match in one of our cases, so I would have to check into that," she said.

Last month, Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin said DNA from a rape that occurred last August east of Raeford matched evidence from a case in Fayetteville. Fayetteville police haven't confirmed such a link.

Peterkin declined to comment Tuesday on Pernell's arrest, but he said a task force of local, state and federal authorities that is investigating the string of rape cases planned to meet Tuesday to discuss it.

An Article 32 hearing, which is the military equivalent of a probable cause hearing, will be held for Pernell in the next week to determine whether a court-martial is warranted, Fickel said. The soldier will be confined on Fort Bragg until the hearing, he said.

Even with the arrest, Brewington said, the public, especially women, should remain vigilant to fend off any future assaults.

"By no means does this mean that the public should let their guard down," she said.

The Army CID is asking anyone with additional information related to the case to call 910-391-3542 or the Military Police at 910-396-0392.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Myra Feb 3, 2010

    Another soldier denied mental health care and help. Another family wants answers. How long ago was it that we read that Fort Bragg punishes wounded warriors who don't keep up with the NON.wounded troops. I wonder if they have considered having a psychological evaluation for the "PERSON OF INTEREST" yet? Is it possible for Ft Bragg's command to consider that their troops could use mental health care? Punishing wounded warriors who can't keep up with non-wounded troops is plain and simple ABUSE.

  • Moabit Feb 2, 2010

    Sorry Kellyaustin 96 but the Army has lowered its standards and it shows. Not everybody likes to see that but it is true nevertheless. Do not know how old you are but as older as one gets the more you get to see how much the army is suffering from letting the wrong people in.Sure it has to do with what the government is doing about the money and so much more but it is absolutely true.

  • vsusu2002 Feb 2, 2010

    KellyAustin96 said: "Is it not funny, that New Yorkers quickly abandon their state because it is unlivable, and they want to come to NC and denigrate the place they choose to live. They are so disingenious you can never take them seriously, or for their word."

    I hate to get off the subject but I so agree with you. I used to work with a New Yorker that belittled everything about North Carolina (stores, shopping, places to go etc).One day I simply said to her, "have you considered going back to NY". Her response was "oh no, never". I am still confused about that one (hate NC but don't want to go back to NY). Maybe one day someone would explain it to me.

  • kellyaustin96 Feb 2, 2010

    Is it not funny, that New Yorkers quickly abandon their state because it is unlivable, and they want to come to NC and denigrate the place they choose to live. They are so disingenious you can never take them seriously, or for their word.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Feb 2, 2010

    "...reported being sexually assaults since late June."

    "...the victim said a man who broke her home..."

    Those quotes have been a part of this article through MANY updates. Why, with all of the updates to the article, isn't this incorrect grammar corrected? I know its not THAT big of a deal. And I know I'm not perfect. But when you're married to an ex-school teacher, who minored in English Literature, you tend to notice these things.

  • NavySrChiefswife Feb 2, 2010

    NYTONC, the military does background checks-- they are supplied by the DOJ. They can only work with the info provided. Instead of trying to start something, think with your brain and not something further south. And since you are from NY, you should know-- most people in NC are rednecks NOT hillbillies:)

  • As if .... Feb 2, 2010

    The comment was made to see how many people would respond to something like what was said. I am not less or more educated than the rest of you hillbillies. By the way the Army , Navy etc. should really see if the people they recruit have criminal records and what they have been arrested for in the past ,including burglary and sexual assault.

  • YPG Feb 2, 2010

    The original story posted was about his Ft Bragg arrests and his picture was shown. This new story is about him being a person of interest in all the cases but his pic was already posted with the first story this morning. It would probably have been best to wait for more solid evidence before connecting the stories but his pic was already on the web due to the other story.

  • kellyaustin96 Feb 2, 2010

    To say the Army is recruiting the lowest of the low is an ingnorant statement, perpetrated by the "Nancy Boys," of the left. They want to ridicule the military, so funding will be cut and sent to their pet projects where they are employed in either government institutions or universities. Fact is those who ridicule the military could not make one week in boot camp. See P-Bo:)

  • concerncitizen Feb 2, 2010

    nytonc, I guess it's out of frustration, that's why you would make a statement like that. When in fact the low life's are being recruited for jobs and positions thought out our country. Doctors, lawyers, police, fireman and women, priest, reverends, teachers. Judging by the ages of these criminals their the sons and daughters, and grand kids of baby boomers! What is happening to our kids?