The stretch of land along the Charles River between Bridge Street and the Blue Heron Bridge offers a picturesque scene. A winding packed path, wooden decking, rough hewn log benches and stone offer a small diversion from life. It’s a wonderful place to walk, explore and even just sit along the river.
But shortly after 5:30pm on Monday, on September 21, all this was broken by screaming. Two women heard the screaming and called 9-1-1, bringing a swarm of police from both local and state agencies, as well as K-9 units and an ambulance, to 3 Bridge Street.
Police say a rape happened there, in daylight at the time that commuters, joggers, dog walkers and locals would be passing by. The suspect, 32 year old Leonel Garcia, gave his address as “11 Charlie Street, Waltham,” though only an 11 Charles Street exists. After his capture and arrest he was taken to Mt. Auburn Hospital where he was treated for a dog bite, apparently sustained by one of the K-9 units during the arrest.
He was arraigned on charges of rape assault, larceny and malicious destruction of property. Bail was set at $2500 and his next hearing is scheduled for October 20.
The victim, a 44 year old Framingham woman, was taken to Newton Wellesley hospital for treatment.
The reason this hasn’t yet appeared in the TAB or the Boston Globe is because the incident shows up on the Newton Police log as a 9-1-1 response at 5:38pm but only as a “Check PE”. The arrest and investigation was handled by state police, due to the fact that the Charles River Reservation is DCR property and therefore within the state’s jurisdiction. Since the publications don’t regularly check those logs, the story hasn’t been made public.
But what is happening along the river? A woman who works in the area and regularly walks her dogs along the path has reported feeling a steady decline in her personal safety. She points to a group of teens regularly seen smoking at some of the breaking points as well as an increase in trash and what looks like multiple homeless encampments, (see picture) all just feet from where locals walk, exercise and commute regularly. An album contains other pictures of the area.
Action from government officials is already in the works. Alderman Ted Hess-Mahan followed this activity as it happened and has been in contact with both law enforcement and other officials. The Mayor’s office, as well as Representative Kay Khan and Sen. Cynthia Creem have all been coordinating to hold a public meeting to discuss safety and other concerns with DCR officials and anyone else who should be involved.