OCALA, Fla. - As Michael Alan Frye made his first appearance before a judge in Marion County on charges of sexual battery and kidnapping, more is known about the 37-year-old suspect's background and what led to his arrest.
According to the Marion County judge, there is enough reason to charge Frye in three of the five reported attacks. Investigators are still trying to build their cases in the other two.
The judge charged Frye with one count of armed sexual battery and kidnapping, and two other counts of sexual battery and kidnapping. Frye was appointed a public defender to represent him because he said he did not have money for a lawyer.
While he was being walked to a patrol cruiser by authorities before dawn Thursday, Frye, of Ocala, told reporters that he's innocent and his arrest is a case of mistaken identity. He said he'd also be willing to submit to a DNA test.
"I didn't do it," Frye said. "You're supposed to be innocent until proven guilty."
According to a Marion County sheriff's report, Frye, who is married with children, said he worked for a stone company and also worked a night shift at a local company. In court Friday morning, Frye told the judge he was unemployed at the time of his arrest and had about $40 in his savings. He also told the judge he did not own any property or vehicles.
Fyre's wife said she did not want to make any comments before a DNA test was conducted, and then added, "This is like a sudden death in the family."
Frye's in-laws told WKMG-TV in Orlando that they are supporting him.
"We're just waiting on the DNA to see what it says. We're standing behind him, but if they got DNA, that will tell the story. We don't think he did it," his father-in-law said.
Frye said he believes the reason he was arrested is because his tattoos match those of the serial rapist. Victims specifically described their assailant as having tattoos on his neck and arm.
The arrest report said Frye told authorities that he was born in Marion County and lived there most of his life. He said he moved to Georgia and Alabama a few years ago with his family before moving back to north central Florida in June, according to the report.
In July, a man in a minivan offered a woman a ride while she was walking to a Dunkin Donuts in Ocala to apply for a job, the report said. He then claimed he had to check on some homes he owned and drove her to a house on Juniper Trail, where he dragged her into a shed, tied her up and brutally raped her, according to the arrest report.
The report said that after Frye was identified as the suspect, a woman who was raped last week in Ocala was shown a photo lineup and also positively identified him. Channel 4 was told a second victim also picked Frye's photos out of a lineup.
Frye told authorities that in the past he has borrowed his in-laws' minivan, a green 1994 Plymouth, which matches the description of a vehicle described by at least one victim.
Authorities said on Wednesday that the same man was suspected in five rapes in north central Florida. The first was in July in Gainesville, followed by two in Marion County and, most recently, two in the city of Ocala.
Sheriff's officials said a victim came forward this week after hearing about the other rape cases.
Investigators said the man played the role of a nice guy, then attacked the women -- driving to a desolate area where he brutalized and violently raped the women.
Twenty-nine-year-old Angelique Perrin,of Gainesville, is believed to be the first known victim.
"He seemed like your next-door neighbor. Just normal, like you, or me, or anyone else," Perrin said.
Perrin said she was picked up outside the Copper Monkey bar in Gainesville, and then beaten and raped. After she was found running out of the woods naked, she was taken to a hospital.
"The physical evidence that's been obtained in this case is still being analyzed, and we do believe it is a strong possibility that Mr. Frye is related to our case," Cpl. Angelina Valuri, of the Gainesville Police Department, said.
Detectives said the rapist was wounded during his latest attack, which occurred last week.
"We know he was cut. We don't know where, (but it was a) pretty big cut," Ocala police Detective Stephanie McQuaid said.
Frye has had a domestic complaint against him, and he was in the Marion County Jail in 2008 for property damage and criminal mischief. In 1994, Frye served 20 days in jail for writing bad checks.
Frye's neighbors said that although he had just moved in, he seemed like a friendly guy.
"Its always shocking to find out its your neighbor," neighbor Linda Demarcello said.
Neighbor Denise Manforte said Frye seemed friendly and kind.
"You just don't think when you see the sketch on TV -- you just don't think about it," Manforte said. "I spoke with him last night. He was sitting outside. He said, 'How are you?' And I said, 'Fine.'"
A family friend said Frye's daughters are having a hard time dealing with the news.
Frye is being held in the Marion County Jail without bail. His next scheduled court date is Nov. 22.
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