Suspect caught in rape of 11 year old

Published 4:22 pm Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The alleged rape of an 11 year-old girl that took place earlier this month lead to the arrest of a 33 year-old man identified as Philip Battaglia.

Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department Chief Investigator Shane Tucker said the alleged incident took place on Aug. 2, between 4 and 5 a.m. That morning, an 11 year-old girl was taken into Highland Community Hospital for treatment of injuries consistent with a sexual assault.

Investigators talked with the victim who identified Battaglia as the suspect. Deputies and investigators went to his home at 850 Old Wiggins Highway in Poplarville, which was the scene of the alleged crime. When they arrived, a man fled the scene into a wooded area. After talking with the four other people at the home, Tucker said investigators determined the man who fled was Battaglia.

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The remainder of the night and day were spent trying to find Battaglia, Tucker said. The U.S. Marshal Service Gulf Coast Fugitive Task Force was called in to assist with Battaglia’s capture. Fugitive Task Force officers eventually talked Battaglia into turning himself in on Friday.

“He had known we were looking for him,” Tucker said. “He was on the lam as they say.”

Battaglia is in custody at the Pearl River County jail for the charges of rape and sexual battery. Tucker said each charge could carry a life sentence if he is convicted.

Supervisory Inspector with the U.S. Marshal Gulf Coast Fugitive Task Force Justin Vickers said the office utilizes federal and local officers in seven offices in the states of Alabama and Mississippi. The office’s work load consists of cases from agencies that request them to locate people that local law enforcement agencies may not have the time or manpower to find. They can even go across state lines if needed.

“Anywhere the flag flies we can go an arrest somebody,” Vickers said.