Japa Das Goins: Registered sex offender charged after trying to kidnap, rape jogger in Tennessee

Officers from the Knoxville PD responded to the Market Square area just after 7 am after reports that a woman was randomly assaulted by a stranger

Japa Das Goins: Registered sex offender charged after trying to kidnap, rape jogger in Tennessee
Japa Goins was charged with aggravated kidnapping, four counts of attempted rape, and one count of sex offender registration violations (Knox County)
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WARNING: This article contains details of incidents of sexual assault that some readers may find traumatic. Discretion is advised

KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE: A registered sex offender was arrested after he reportedly tried to kidnap and rape a woman as she was jogging on Tuesday, September 6.

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Officers from the Knoxville Police Department responded to the Market Square area just after 7 am after reports that a woman was randomly assaulted by a man she did not know. Knoxville police spokesperson Scott Erland said multiple bystanders rushed to help the woman and that she sustained minor injuries. Erland said that the suspect fled before police arrived at the scene. He was eventually apprehended.

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Multiple agencies including KPD's Violent Crimes Unit, with assistance from the Property Crimes Unit, patrol officers, and the Sex Offender Registry Detail, were eventually able to identify the suspect as Japa Das Goins, 34, who was located at the Probation and Parole Board on Elm Street around 10 am and taken into custody. Goins reportedly admitted to the assault while speaking to Violent Crimes Unit investigators. The department said Goins will be charged with aggravated kidnapping and attempted rape.

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“I am incredibly proud of the great urgency and teamwork our investigators and patrol officers showed to bring this incident to an almost immediate resolution,” Chief of Police Paul Noel said in a statement. “I am also thankful for the bystanders who jumped in to help when help was needed. People should feel and be safe in every public space in our city, and we will respond quickly to address any actions or behavior that compromises that sense of safety.”

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This wasn't Goins' first run-in with the law. In 2021, he faced two separate rape charges and two separate sexual battery charges, per the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry. While the rape charges were dismissed, Goins pleaded guilty to the sexual battery charges. Having said that, the attempted kidnapping and rape on Tuesday came amid growing fears for the safety of joggers following the widely-reported death of 34-year-old Eliza Fletcher in Memphis that grabbed national headlines. Memphis police said the elementary school teacher, 34, was kidnapped and murdered while out on a jog early on September 2.

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Suspect Cleotha Henderson, initially referred to as Cleotha Abston by police, was originally charged with especially aggravated kidnapping and tampering with evidence following Fletcher's disappearance. Investigators obtained footage of the vehicle used in the kidnapping in the same area 24 minutes before the tragic mother-of-two was forced into the vehicle at 4.20 am in Memphis.

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Police said they obtained surveillance footage, which is yet to be released, showing a man running "aggressively" towards Fletcher and forcing her into the passenger side of the vehicle. After a brief struggle, the car sat in the parking lot for four minutes and then drove off to an unknown location. Additional charges of first-degree murder and first-degree murder in perpetration of kidnapping were brought against Henderson on Tuesday, September 6.

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In another disturbing case in Memphis, a mother and her one-year-old toddler were allegedly kidnapped from a Target store in broad daylight on September 1.
 

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