Police: Girl survives attack with brother's help

By Daniel Silliman


She thought she was going to die.

The 9-year-old girl flew through the air -- allegedly thrown off of a second-story balcony by a would-be rapist as her brother beat desperately at the front door -- and she thought, she said, she was going to die.

But, she survived.

With a scraped knee and a puffy lip, the 9-year-old told the Clayton County Police she was lured into the apartment of a 41-year-old Clayton County Public Schools maintenance man, told to take off her shorts and then thrown off the balcony.

Joseph Reid Bearfield, a bald, and clean-shaved, six-foot-tall man, lived in apartment Z-4, at a complex in Morrow, court records show.

On Sept. 4, at about 2:35 p.m., Bearfield allegedly approached two, pre-teen girls, who lived in the same apartment complex, and asked them, "did they want to pass out flyers for him." The two girls, who are not being named because of their ages and the nature of the alleged crime, said they would help the man, according to their statements to police.

Bearfield then allegedly said he would have to get the flyers from his house. "So they followed him to his apartment," according to police.

In Bearfield's apartment, the middle-aged man allegedly sent one girl to "get permission from her parents," leaving him alone with the other girl. The girl said she shouldn't leave, without her friend, but Bearfield allegedly insisted, according to an arrest warrant filed at the courthouse by Clayton County Police Detective Damon D. Hunter.

The girl, feeling something wasn't right, went and told her friend's 18-year-old brother.

The alleged victim later told Detective Joanne Southerland, the man said that if she wanted to help, she had to pass a test. Bearfield said "she had to pass the test first and do a split," according to the police report. The girl tried, but couldn't do it, and Bearfield allegedly said "she wasn't able to do it because of her jean shorts and ... she needed to take them off."

The girl took off her blue jean shorts, dropping them in the middle of the man's living room floor. Then, he grabbed her, police allege, and forced her face into a red love seat, touching her inappropriately.

The 18-year-old brother, who is not being named to protect his sister's identity, ran to the apartment where his sister was reportedly being held by the man, and began pounding and kicking the door.

He told police a tall, hairless man opened the door, wearing sunglasses and khaki-colored shorts. The door was just open a crack, and he yelled, "Where's my sister?" The man, later positively identified as Bearfield, swore at the brother, reportedly saying, "Your [expletive] sister ain't in here."

Bearfield allegedly shut the door, and then the 9-year-old, having heard her brother's voice, started screaming for help.

She was still screaming, she said, when the man grabbed her by her shoulder and thigh, and threw her out of the apartment, off of the second floor.

The 18-year-old brother was still kicking at the door, and Bearfield reportedly opened it a second time, and said there was nobody in the apartment, and he had to leave for work. The brother went in, looking for his sister and the man ran away, according to police.

The 9-year-old walked around the building, after the fall, looking for her brother and wearing only a T-shirt and her underwear. Her brother picked up her shorts and shoes off the floor of Z-4, and called police.

Bearfield had been working at the school system as part of the grounds and maintenance crew for five months, according to a school system spokesman. He reportedly called his supervisor and said he was having an emergency. He wouldn't, he reportedly said, be coming to work for a few days.

He showed up at work on 218 Old Stockbridge Road that night, though, according to Jonesboro Police. Using his work keys, he allegedly spent the night in the warehouse, drinking alcohol until he fell asleep, and then he left in the morning with a school-owned, Ford F-150.

Officer Victoria Wright, with the Jonesboro Police, wrote in her arrest warrant application that the whole thing was captured on video camera.

According to a school spokesman, Bearfield was fired the next day, for the misuse of school property, possession of alcohol on school property, and the unauthorized use of a maintenance vehicle.

Bearfield had successfully passed a background check to get the job, and came into "incidental contact" with school children for the months he worked there, school officials told police.

The truck driven by Bearfield was reportedly found in Atlanta, abandoned about 25 miles from where it was stolen.

Bearfield was arrested, a short time later, as he came out of his girlfriend's house to argue with a repo-man about towing away a car, a county police spokesman said.

The 41-year-old man was taken to the Clayton County Jail. He was indicted by a Clayton County grand jury on Wednesday, on charges of child molestation, assault, kidnapping and car theft. He faces a possible sentence of life in prison.