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Police arrest suspected rapist

1:44 PM, Sep 3, 2009   |    comments
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  • Authorities lead Joseph Lee Frye into Tampa Police headquarters.
  • Joseph Frye

Tampa Police officers have arrested rape suspect Joseph Lee Frye. Frye was taken into custody without incident at the Mayflower Motel on N. Florida Avenue.

A tip from a citizen led Tampa Police officers to the motel. TPD officials say officers got a pass key from the office and went into Frye's room.  They say he did not resist.

The convicted felon is suspected of raping an elderly woman in her Seminole Heights bedroom on Friday. Investigators say they were able to identify Frye as the suspect after tests on the physical evidence left on the crime scene.  

He's no stranger to Tampa Police or the law.  Frye was released from Florida State Prison a month ago after serving time for a 1985 sexual battery and kidnapping in Tampa.

As for Thursday's arrest, Assistant Police Chief Jane Castor said, "Everybody has seen his past criminal record and violent history that he has so I think everyone in the City of Tampa can breathe a little easier knowing that he's going to be behind bars and he's not getting out."


Records released to 10 Connects by the State Attorney's Office show Frye was arrested for breaking into a home and tying up a woman, her husband and her son and then sexually assaulted her.

TPD spokeswoman Laura McElroy tells 10 Connects Frye was sentenced to 28 years, plus 10 years probation for those crimes. 

Frye was released to probation December 16, 2001 after serving the time required at the time.

The Florida Department of Corrections tells 10 Connects, Frye got days off for good behavior and gain time because of the timeframe he committed the 1985 crime.  DOC says inmates who committed crimes in the 80's got more time off for good behavior than they do now.

But about a month later, Frye was back in trouble again in 2002 when he arrested by Tampa Police for violating his probation after he was caught with an open container and accused of sexual battery.

McElroy says the victim did not cooperate and there was no physical evidence, so they were not able to pin the sexual battery charge on him. 

Frye went back to prison in 2004 for violating his probation and ordered to serve what his original sentence would have been...40 years, which includes the probation according to DOC.  This is where the math comes in.  DOC tells us he was credited for the time already served and released at the end of his term on August 1, 2009.

The Truth in Sentencing Law did not apply to Frye because it was passed by the Legislature in 1995.  The law requires offenders to serve a minimum of 85% of their court mandated sentences only applies to crimes committed on or after October 1, 1995.  The crimes he was originally served time for occured in 1985.

Records also show a Multidisciplinary Team of the Sexually Violent Predators Program reviewed Frye twice: 2001 and 2008 and concluded he did not meet the criteria at be considered a sexually violent predator.

He also filed an insanity defense in 2003 according to the records obtained by 10 Connects.  He claimed to be suffering from schizophrenia

By the time police say he committed Friday's sexual battery and robbery, police were already looking for him.

Frye is a sex offender and failed to register with the Sex Offender Database. According to his records, he's failed to register at least twice before. 

When police went to check the Hillsborough Avenue hotel he claimed to be living, Frye was not there and the manager told them he never moved in.  Click here to view his flyer.

At about 7:20 Wednesday morning, police received a 9-1-1 call that a man who looked like Frye was near the Hillsborough River bridge. Police launched a massive search in the area of Hillsborough Avenue and Florida Avenue. 

Further interviews with the 9-1-1 caller determined the features the caller thought she saw did not match the features of Joseph Frye.

Frye has faced more than a dozen charges going back to 1978 in Hillsborough County and one offense - attempted escape - in Pasco County.   Click here to view his Florida Department of Corrections history.

Police say the latest incident happened last Friday in the area of Florida Avenue and Hillsborough Avenue. His victim was a woman over the age of 65. She was not further identified.

According to police:

The victim woke up to a sound in her home and armed herself with a gun. She went into the hallway where the suspect armed with a screwdriver confronted her. He overpowered the victim and took the gun away from her.

The suspect then forced her at gunpoint into her bedroom and sexually battered her. The suspect ransacked the home and stole cash and jewelry. The suspect fled the scene and the victim called police.

10 Connects News

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