Wiregrass Rapist Caught

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A man who is accused of kidnapping and raping a 10-year-old girl has been arrested.

Police say the convicted sex offender tried hiding from police after they say he raped a girl who lived nearby.

Ozark Police have arrested 43-year-old Kent Stewart of Ozark. He is a convicted sex offender who has a history of violence and police say he needed to be brought in as soon a possible.

Kent Stewart is charged with kidnapping and raping a ten-year-old girl.

The victim was playing at an Ozark apartment complex playground just before police say Stewart attacked.

"I think it's scary for one because I have two children living over here myself. It's not the people in the community that you have to worry about. It's the outsiders," says Tariah S. Williams, victim's neighbor.

Police say he asked the victim to help him move a chair, offering her $2 dollars.

Police say when she refused to help, he then took her from the playground to his home on Harris Street and raped her.

"It's our aim to have him prosecuted and put back into the prison system where he belongs, hopefully for the rest of his life. This is an animalistic act," says Ozark Police Chief, Tony Spivey.

Police say Stewart took the girl through a patch of woods to his home, reducing the chance of being seen by anyone around.

Right now, the victim is physically stable, but police say she is still traumatized by the event.

She returned to her home shortly after the incident and identified the subject immediately.

Terri Carter lives across the street from where Stewart is suspected of taking the girl.

She says the convicted sex offender comes by her home frequently, asking for cigarettes and appears to be on drugs. "We have two 8-year-old daughters and they're always constantly playing in our yard,” she says. “These people walk through our yard all the time, and they talk to our kids. For him to do this right around the corner; what if it was our daughters?"

Police say they found the suspect hiding in an abandoned apartment complex next to where the rape occurred.

Stewart was convicted of rape with aggression to an elderly woman in 1993. He was registered in Ozark as a sex offender in 2003.

Ozark Police were assisted by the Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force.

Police say more charges are expected to be filed in this case.