The alleged rapes took place on or near Norton Street. The suspect would target a sex worker, brandish a gun, and, more often than not, steal her cellphone after the assault. He rarely used a condom, and always threatened his victims.
That pattern emerges from reports filed against an alleged serial rapist of prostitutes, who now stands accused of committing at least five sexual assaults (and possibly more) on the west side of town.
On Thursday morning, Navardo Lockhart was arraigned on three new sets of charges related to his alleged sexual assault of sex workers (as first reported by the New Haven Register’s Ben Lambert.)
One of those charges stems from a May 2018 incident where three city cops let the 26-year-old New Haven man go free despite the pleas for help from his alleged victim.
An Independent review of files connected to Lockhart’s five charges to date, including the three newly available on Friday, shows the suspect’s alleged assaults took place between January 2017 and August 2018.
In all five cases, he allegedly brandished a gun, later shown to be a BB gun, at his victim before coercing her into having sex. In three of the five cases, he stole the woman’s cellphone after the assault. In all five cases, he threatened physical violence if the woman resisted his attack.
His cumulative bail bond for all five charges is now $1.2 million.
And the Special Victims Unit (SVU) police officers who methodically investigated the assaults and amassed the charges against Lockhart believe that there are still at least three, and maybe many more, sexual assault cases yet to file against him.
Lockhart, who was arrested on Sept. 15, 2018, will face all five charges in court on March 11. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges previously brought against him.
Below are overviews of the three new charges. Click here to read an article about the first two.
“I Told You He Has A Gun”
The first new arrest warrant, written by city police officer Eduardo Leonardo and signed by Superior Court Judge Patrick Clifford on Jan. 9, refers to an alleged assault on May 20, 2018 where three city officers stopped Lockhart, and then let him go free, despite being told of the assault by his alleged victim. (Click here to read an Independent article about the police internal affairs report (IA) on the incident, which took place on Edgewood Avenue near Pendleton Street.)
The affidavit filed with the application for the Jan. 9 warrant reveals new details about the interactions between Lockhart, his alleged victim, and the police that were were not included in or redacted from the police IA report.
For one, the new warrant states that Lockhart told Officers Chris Landucci and Jacob Cedeno that his name was “Vardo Nockhart.” One of the key findings of the IA report was that the officers failed to conduct a proper background check on Lockhart, who did not have a driver’s license on him but did have outstanding warrants for his arrest.
The warrant also describes in greater detail what the victim told Cedeno, whom police investigators later found to have acted improperly in not responding to her claim that she had just been assaulted.
“The victim was observed speaking in a very low tone (unable to decipher what was said),” Leonardo wrote, “to which Officer J. Cedeno replied ‘where, where, ... are you sure?’ The victim was escorted out the vehicle and she clarified to Officer J. Cedeno ‘I told you he has a gun in the car and he made me give him a blowjob (street terminology for oral sex).’ The victim stated Lockhart placed the gun somewhere near the front driver side floor when police arrived. Officer J. Cedeno and Officer C. Landucci escorted Lockhart out of the vehicle. Officer J. Cedeno located a black BB gun on the driver side of the floor.
“It should be noted,” Leonardo continued, “the victim informed Officers on multiple occasions she was glad they stopped the vehicle because Lockhart had a gun and was forcing her to perform sexual acts. Lockhart and the victim were released from police detention with no criminal action.”
Lockhart, Victim Interviewed
On Sept. 15, Dets. Leonardo Soto and Joshua Kyle interviewed Lockhart about the May 20 incident.
“Lockhart stated he met the victim on the street and picked her up with the intentions to have sexual intercourse in exchange for money,” he wrote. When the two got to Edgewood Park, Lockhart said, the victim performed oral sex on him until police arrived.
Before police approached the vehicle, Lockhart said, he pulled out a black BB gun and showed it to the victim.
“Lockhart denied the victim’s claim of him brandishing a gun and forcing her to perform oral sex,” Leonardo wrote. “Lockhart stated the victim performed oral sex voluntarily because she was under the assumption she would be compensated.”
Initially, Lockhart told the officers that he did not take the victim’s cellphone.
Upon subsequent questioning, he admitted that he did take her phone. But, he said, he didn’t remember how her cellphone ended up in his possession.
“It should be noted,” Leonardo wrote, “during the interview Lockhart admitted to taking two other prostitutes’ cell phones (while they engaged in sexual acts) and never returned it to therm. Lockhart said he took the cell phone because he didn’t own a cell phone.”
Lockhart told the detectives that he kept his BB gun at his mom’s residence. The detectives later retrieved the BB gun, as well as “a starter pistol, and high capacity magazine containing (11) eleven 7.62 x 33 mm rounds from his mother’s residence.”
On Sept. 21, Det. Juan Ingles and Leonardo interviewed the victim of the May 20 incident.
She told the officers that Lockhart had pulled up beside her in a silver SUV while she was walking home. She said Lockhart identified himself as “Peter.” Lockhart told her he’d give her a ride home. Once she was in the car, Lockhart requested sexual acts in exchange for $20, to which she agreed.
After Lockhart drove to and parked in Edgewood Park, the victim told the detectives, “Lockhart brandished a gun which he retrieved from the left side of the driver side seat and told the victim ‘you’re going to do what I want you to do.’ The victim interpreted this as a threat to perform sexual acts or she would be harmed.
“Lockhart then grabbed the victim’s cell phone which she held in her hand. The victim said she was terrified for her well-being, so she began to perform oral sex on Lockhart. The victim stopped performing oral sex when police arrived on scene.”
The victim then told Cedeno about the gun in the car, and about how Lockhart had taken her phone.
“Immediately after she informed Officer J. Cedeno that Lockhart had her cell phone,” Leonardo wrote, “Lockhart handed her the cell phone.” When the officers found the gun and determined that it was a BB gun, the victim said she thought that the gun was a real one. The officers later let both Lockhart and the victim leave the scene separately.
In a subsequent photograph lineup, the victim identified Lockhart’s photo and said she was 87 percent sure that he was the one who had assaulted her. That came after she picked out another photo in the lineup, and said she was 65 percent sure that that other man had assaulted her. “The victim added these two subjects had very similar features,” Leonardo wrote.
For the May 20 incident, city cops charged Lockhart with first-degree robbery, first-degree sexual assault, having a weapon in his vehicle, interfering with a police officer, and having a facsimile of a firearm.
New Charges For January 2017 Assault
On Jan. 16, Soto filed and Clifford signed a fourth set of sexual assault charges against Lockhart, these dating back two years to an incident that took place on Jan. 3, 2017.
On Jan. 17, 2017, Soto wrote, “patrol officers were sent to the area of Norton St. and Elm St. for the report of a sexual assault.”
The victim told the officers that she was approached from behind by a young man, who dragged her behind the house at 165 Norton St., pushed her up against a garage, and sexually assaulted her. The victim was sent to Yale-New Haven Hospital at 1450 Chapel St., where a sexual assault evidence collection kit was completed.
“During the course of several ongoing investigations,” Soto wrote, “a subject matching the description that was given by the victim was arrested for multiple sexual assaults in the area of Norton St. and Ella T. Grasso Blvd.” The subject was identified as Lockhart.
After Lockhart was arrested, police took a DNA sample and found that “the DNA profile from the vaginal is at least 100 billion times more likely if it originated from Navardo Lockhart.”
On Oct. 5, Kyle and Soto interviewed the victim at the Manchester Police Department. She told the officers that, on Jan. 3, 2017, she was attacked by a male subject while walking on the Boulevard at around midnight.
“As she was walking,” Soto wrote, “a black male subject approached her from behind, pointed what she described as a firearm to her back, and he walked her to the rear of the house” and assaulted her.
She remembered that, during the assault, the perpetrator told her to “shut up” and she he would “do something to her” if she didn’t do what he said. The victim said the perpetrator didn’t wear a condom, and ejaculated inside her vagina.
For the Jan. 3, 2017 incident, police have charged Lockhart with first-degree sexual assault and second-degree unlawful restraint.
More Stolen Phones
The third set of new charges against Lockhart stem from an alleged sexual assault that took place on May 27, 2018 near Norton Street and Whalley Avenue, just a week after three city cops stopped him, and let him go, in Edgewood Park.
Written by Kyle on Jan. 16, 2019 and signed by Clifford on Jan. 22, the report notes that Kyle and city police officer Derek Horner interviewed the victim on May 27.
She told the officers that she had been at a friend’s place near Norton Street and George Street until around 10 p.m. She left and started walking towards Norton Street and Whalley Avenue to catch the city bus.
“The Victim’s phone was dying,” Kyle wrote, “and she was unable to look up the bus schedule. A couple blocks before Whalley Ave, The Victim observed a black male walking southbound on the opposite side of Norton Street. She crossed the street and asked the male to use his phone. The male pulled out a black handgun and put it to her right side. The male held her at gunpoint and walked her to the backyard of an abandoned house.”
She remembered that he moved “junk” from in front of a fence, and then opened the fence. “They squeezed their way into the backyard,” he wrote, “because the fence would not open all the way.”
The man told her to take her pants off, and, when she had one pant leg down, the male’s phone rang.
“He told her he was going to kill her if she did not shut up,” Kyle wrote.
A woman on the other end of the phone asked the perpetrator when he was coming home. He said he was on his way. Then he hung up the phone, pulled down the victim’s pants, and forced her to have vaginal, anal, and oral sex.
“The male stopped several times because The Victim was crying,” Kyle wrote, “and his phone kept ringing. Each time, The Victim was forced to perform oral sex on the male to get him aroused again. She pretended to enjoy the intercourse so the male would hurry up and finish. During intercourse he put the handgun on the ground, but he displayed a silver or chrome knife and said ‘don’t think I can’t still fuck you up.’”
At the end of the assault, the man ejaculated in her vagina, anus and on her face. He told the victim to stay where she was for five minutes, took her clothes, and left her clothes in the middle of the street. She waited five minutes and walked to Whalley, where she was able to flag some officers.
“She was unable to call police immediately after,” Kyle wrote, “because the male stole her LG Metro PCS phone.” She told the cops that the suspect was a dark-complexioned man, approximately five feet, ten inches tall, with a thin build. He had a full beard and was between 25 and 32 years old.
Officers took her to the hospital at 20 York St., where she received medical treatment and completed a sexual assault kit.
The victim also told Kyle that she had had unprotected sex with her boyfriend the night before. An hour before the assault, she had had protected sex with another man. And prior to that, she had performed oral sex on another man.
On Sept. 15, cops got a tip that Lockhart was staying with his estranged wife on Platt Street. The estranged wife agreed to let Sgt. Mary Helland search the residence. The wife identified “several cell phones in the apartment and she did not know who they belonged to.”
Five phones were located in the apartment. Lockhart’s wife said that none of the phones belonged to her. “The phones were logged in as evidence because they might have been phones that N. Lockhart stole in the commission of suspected crimes.”
After Lockhart was arrested on Sept. 15, he told the police that “he has solicited prostitutes in the past. He admitted to stealing phones from women after propositioning them for sex in exchange for money. He also admitted to not paying some of the women for the services rendered. He was asked about the incident with The Victim and he said he never solicited sex on that date from a woman with her description.”
On Sept. 19, Leonardo and Kyle met up with the victim, and presented her with a photo lineup of suspects. She picked out a photograph of a man who was not Lockhart.
But on Oct. 2, city cops received DNA test results from the state lab for samples collected after the May 27 incident. The DNA profile matched Lockhart’s.
Based on the May 27 incident, city cops charged Lockhart with first-degree sexual assault, two counts of first-degree unlawful restraint, first-degree robbery, and first-degree reckless endangerment.