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New Haven police link suspect in sexual assault cases after his picture appears on victim’s replacement phone

NEW HAVEN — Photos in the cloud lead to the arrest of a suspect in one sexual assault case and then linked him to four more, according to New Haven police.

Navardo Lockhart, 26, of New Haven, has been jailed in connection with two cases of sexual assault and police expect to charge him with three more shortly. So far, Lockhart faces charges of Sexual Assault 1st Degree, Robbery 1st Degree and Unlawful Restraint 1st and 2nd Degree. Three remaining active arrest warrants will be served on his next court date.

In April of last year, police received information that women, believed to be prostitutes, were being sexually assaulted and robbed in the area of Edgewood Park. Police spoke to several victims who declined to file charges. Others victims were encouraged to go to the hospital for treatment and be examined for sexual assault. Victims said the man who assaulted them was black, with dreads or short braids, facial hair, approximately 20 years old, with a Caribbean accent.

Reviewing other cases, detectives found assaults that were consistent a similar pattern and identifiers. Police said between May and August 2018 there were no sexual assaults reported in that area. On August 26, 2018, police were called to a sexual assault complaint in the basement of 66 Norton Street where a weapon was displayed. The victim said she was sexually assaulted and the perpetrator took her cell phone. Several days later, the victim told police that while getting a new cell phone, photos began showing up on her new device from her iCloud account. She told police the photos were of the man who sexually assaulted her. Detectives used her phone records, which led to identify Lockhart as a suspect. Police requested an arrest warrant and DNA search warrant and on September 15, 2018, they arrested Lockhart for the warrant and an outstanding motor vehicle warrant.  Police recovered evidence belonging to other victims and a BB gun.

After his arrest, police said a comparison of Lockhart’s DNA and sexual assault evidence kits connected him to five cases. Police said Lockhart may also be connected to three more cases as well.  Lockhart has been jailed since his arrest last September on two sexual assault warrants and three remaining active arrest warrants will be served on his next court date. Police said since Lockhart had no previous convictions, his DNA was not on file.

Assistant Chief of Detectives Herb Johnson said, “This was an extensive complex case.  It brought out the challenges victims go through when trying to report a sexual assault and the stigma attached not only with public perception, but officers as well.  The response by Sergeant [Mary] Helland and her detectives to consult with our partners, support the victims and meet with officers was truly amazing.  This great work removed a violent offender from the New Haven community.”

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