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Police arrest Rex man after alleged rape

Suspect may be tied to other sex crimes

Salih Talha Mahdi

Salih Talha Mahdi

Clayton County police are looking into local unsolved sexual assaults, to see if they may have been committed by a Rex man who was arrested by this week moments after he allegedly raped a woman twice at an apartment complex on the outskirts of Morrow.

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Photo by Curt Yeomans Clayton County Police spokesperson, Officer Chandi Ashmore (right), addresses reporters questions about the arrest of rape suspect Salih Talha Mahdi on Wednesday. Also pictured is Morrow Police Sgt. Larry Oglesby (left).

County police announced the arrest of Salih Talha Mahdi, 24, on Wednesday. He was arrested Tuesday and charged with rape, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, false imprisonment and robbery, in connection with a rape that happened Tuesday afternoon. It happened at the Magnolia Woods Apartments complex, located on Lake Harbin Road, just outside the Morrow city limits.

Police said they are working to find out if he previously committed additional, unsolved sexual crimes and “other crimes” that took place in recent years, in other parts of Clayton County and neighboring counties.

“Clayton County Police Department did not have warrants for him, on anything outstanding; however, he is alleged to have possibly been involved in other incidents in Clayton County,” said Officer Chandi Ashmore, a Clayton County Police spokesperson. “We are working with multiple jurisdictions to find out if he is the alleged perpetrator.”

County police have so far said they are working with Morrow police to look into possible crimes that Mahdi may have committed in that city, but they are not identifying any other jurisdictions they have contacted. Morrow Police Sgt. Larry Oglesby said the other jurisdictions are not yet being identified to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation into Mahdi.

“We do have an ongoing investigation, and we don’t want to do anything that’s going to taint that investigation at this time,” Oglesby said.

Clayton County Magistrate Court records show Mahdi allegedly hit his female victim in the face, with his fist, and damaged her eye socket before the rape occurred. The records show he is also accused of ordering his victim to remove her shirt before the rape.

Ashmore said an apartment complex maintenance worker spotted Mahdi right after the rape, and began to chase Mahdi until Morrow police arrived, and took the Rex resident into custody until they could turn him over to Clayton County police.

Oglesby said the maintenance worker, whose name has not been released, did not know a rape had occurred when he began chasing Mahdi. The worker only suspected the Rex man was engaging in suspicious activity, according to the police sergeant, who praised the worker for his actions.

“He possibly saved her [the victim’s] life,” Oglesby said.

Clayton County Magistrate Court Judge Richard Brown denied bond for Mahdi on all of the charges, on Wednesday.

Court records detail a history by Mahdi of alleged violent, and sometimes sexual, behavior towards women in the Morrow area.

A November 2006 arrest warrant application shows he was arrested at that time and charged with simple battery and cruelty to children after he allegedly pushed and restrained his then-15-year-old sister. He pleaded no contest in Clayton County State Court a month later and was sentenced to serve 12 months probation, and 40 hours of community service.

He was arrested again in September 2008, and charged with two counts of making terroristic threats and one count of simple assault-family violence, after he allegedly told a woman who lived in his family’s home that he would “destroy” her with a baseball bat that he was holding.

The arrest warrant application from that incident shows he also threatened his mother, telling her “shut up before I hurt you. I could hurt you so easy.” He pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal, and was sentenced in June 2009 to serve three years in jail, which was suspended with conditions.

Another arrest warrant application, for a separate February 2010 incident, shows he was arrested at that time, at the Walmart located on Ga. Hwy. 54, in Morrow, and charged with sexual battery, public indecency and violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act.

The warrant application explains that he allegedly “came up behind the victim with his penis exposed and press [sic] it against the victim’s buttocks and ask [sic] for sexual favors” at the store. Police found a “suspected marijuana cigarette” on him when he was arrested at the store, according to the warrant application. They also wrote in the application that he was arrested for similar behavior a month earlier.

Prosecutors dropped the public indecency charge, and he pleaded no contest in State Court to the sexual battery and possession of marijuana — one ounce or less (which had replaced the violation of the Georgia Controlled Substances Act charge). He was sentenced to serve 12 months probation.