Philadelphia Police Captain James Clark said during a news conference Wednesday morning that Donte Johnson, 18, of the 900 block of N. 11th Street in Philadelphia, has been taken into custody and is awaiting charges in the June 2nd murder of Sabina Rose O’Donnell
Source tell Action News that Johnson has confessed to the crime. Police have charged him with murder, rape and related offenses.
Captain Clark said this heinous crime was a random attack. According to police, Johnson wanted to take Sabina’s bike but when she screamed and resisted, it escalated into a much more savage crime.
Investigators had said Sabina had borrowed that bike to ride home after a night out with friends.
Police say it appears Johnson had been cruising through the neighborhood, looking for victims to rob.
“He was a predator that night,” Capt. Clark said. “We see on the video he follows another female, but he doesn’t catch up to her. At some point he catches up with Sabina and the murder takes place.”
Captain Clark said the break in the case came on June 11th, just one day after surveillance video of a person of interest was released. A tip caller indicated that the male featured in surveillance video released by police was a man she knew as Donte.
Officers with the homicide unit had prior contact with this Donte, and identified him as Donte Johnson.
On one occasion after that tip call officers attempted to stop Johnson and arrest him, but he got away.
On Tuesday, police say Johnson’s mother contacted investigators and arranged to meet to turn her son into police. At about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday Donte Johnson, along with members of his family, turned himself in to authorities. He was taken into custody and questioned overnight. Johnson remains in custody as police await approval of murder, rape and related charges from the District Attorney’s Office.
It will then be up to the D.A. if prosecutors will go for the death penalty in this case.
O’Donnell, 20, was found dead on Wednesday, June 2nd in a lot next to the apartment building where she lived with her stepfather in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, near the border of Northern Liberties.
Police say O’Donnell died of strangulation and was sexually assaulted. Her body was found nude with a bra wrapped around her neck. Police are testing DNA samples found on her body in hopes of finding a suspect.
Police plan to take a DNA sample from Johnson, and say they believe it will match Johnson.
In the surveillance video released by police,a young man could be seen riding a bike.
The grainy video, which you can watch above or click here, was shown to the media on last Thursday afternoon.
He was wearing a white tank top and is seen riding a bicycle through the area where O’Donnell was attacked. He passes by the camera several times but, at one point, (not seen in the above video), a person who resembles O’Donnell rides a bicycle by and the man stops his bike, turns around, and follows her.
“When you see her ride by on the bike and then you see this individual turn around and go after her. That is the final minutes before this crime takes place,” Clark said.
Police say the white tank top Donte was wearing matches the one found at the crime scene.