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Gwinnett serial rape suspect captured

1:34 PM, May 9, 2013   |    comments
Joseph Sivonda and Tiffany Martin (Gwinnett County Jail)
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  • NORCROSS, Ga. -- Police in Gwinnett County have captured an accused serial rapist who lured his victims into a vacant apartment.

    Joseph Tyler Sivonda, 23, was taken into custody Thursday morning at an apartment in Duluth.

    He was staying with 30-year-old Tiffany Martin, who was also arrested and charged with hindering the apprehension of a felon.

    Police said Sivonda hired female escorts online and arranging to meet them in a vacant apartment in the complex where he lives.

    When the women showed up, police said Sivonda pulled out a gun, robbed them and raped them. Gwinnett police are investigating three incidents in the Bradford Gwinnett apartments off Beaver Ruin Road in unincorporated Norcross.

    Police searched the apartment last week after not finding Sivonda at home. Neighbors said he lives in one of the apartments with his brother and mother. A SWAT team battered in the family's door and searched the apartment.

    A woman who lives across the hall said police asked her to leave her apartment while they searched. She didn't want to be identified.

    "It's just really scary," she said. "It's scary to know that we have these type of people just living right across the hall."

    Residents were recently warned about the latest sexual assault that happened in a separate building in the apartment complex. One neighbor said management told them not to open their doors to strangers.

    Kisha Middlebrooks lives below the suspect's apartment and when police came to her door this morning, she trembled with fear.

    "So when I heard the banging on the door I immediately jumped up grabbed my cell phone and called 911 and I had some knives in my hand," Middlebrooks said.

    She said the 911 operator assured her it was the police at her door. Later she learned they were looking for Sivonda who lived above her apartment. She said she was surprised.

    "He would actually help me with the trash sometimes, he seemed really nice," she said. "He would say 'I told you women aren't supposed to take out the trash, I'll take it for you.'"

    "That's the thing I keep thinking about is his face," said the woman across the hall. "I speak to him, he speaks to everybody around and just to know that this is going on is ridiculous."

    In a neighborhood where children run free, carefree life has changed with the news that Sivonda is a wanted man. Now the neighbor below and the one across the hall can't trust their instincts, can't trust first impressions.

    "It's just unbelievable," Middlebrooks said. "I have three daughters and I just can't believe it. He seemed like a nice guy."

    "I have children, I have a daughter, so my kids are staying in the house, we are not unlocking our doors, it's just sad," said the woman across the hall. "It's scary and it's really sad."

    You can follow Kevin on Twitter @kgrowson

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