Police: Convicted sex offender impersonating officer rapes teen, holds him against his will

The Baker Police Department reported this is Mark David Russell's car. (Source: WAFB)
The Baker Police Department reported this is Mark David Russell's car. (Source: WAFB)

BAKER, LA (WAFB) - Mark David Russell was arrested Monday in Baker for allegedly taking a 17-year-old young man hostage for days and raping him.

Police say Russell got to the teen by driving past him in a Ford Crown Victoria that looked like an unmarked police car.

The exterior of his house on Baker Boulevard appears warm and welcoming, except for one sign that police say depicts a dark past. Russell, a known sex offender, lives at the house, which has been marked as a crime scene. Baker Police Chief Carl Dunn described what investigators found there as "sick and disturbing."

"While running a search warrant, a lot was being revealed," said Dunn.

Investigators spent the night collecting evidence from the house and a shed where a 17-year-old reported Russell held him against his will and raped him. Dunn said Russell dressed up an old Crown Victoria to look just like a police car.

"He was walking down the street; he stopped him as a police officer and started a conversation," Dunn added. "It had real facing strobe lights and it had a working dash camera, just like a real police car would have, a working dash camera."

Dunn said Russell held the teen boy at his house since Wednesday. The boy was somehow able to get away on Sunday night, Dunn said and went straight to police. Russell was arrested and booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison.

RELATED: Criminal history for convicted sex offender accused of rape, impersonating a police officer

"We spent numerous hours serving a search warrant, searching for evidence to support the allegation of what was going on whether they cleared him or supported him but just to make sure we had a good substantial case but we spent numerous hours on it," Dunn said.

Russell was locked up Monday charged with first-degree rape, false imprisonment and impersonating an officer.

Judge Richard "Chip" Moore set his bond at $13,000.  He was out of jail by Tuesday morning. The East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office filed a motion on Thursday asking Judge Chip Moore to consider revoking or increasing Russell's bond due to the severity of the charges against him.

The judge will hear the motion in court on May 8.

"It just gonna make us work a little harder. that's what it's going to do. We're not going to be discouraged by anything at all," Dunn said.

This was not Russell's first time for such an arrest.

According to documents obtained by WAFB, Russell has a criminal history dating back to 1993, when he was convicted and sent to prison for rape and molestation of a juvenile. He was released from prison in 1999 but his release was revoked less than two years later. He was incarcerated from 2001 to 2006.

In 2002, he pled guilty to the misdemeanor charge of simple battery that he was charged with while in jail.

In 2015, Russell was charged with felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile and contributing to the delinquency of a juvenile for a crime that allegedly happened in 2014.

As of May 1, District Attorney Hillar Moore said his office would be dropping the charges filed against Russell in 2015.

Moore sent the following statement to WAFB explaining his decision:

This case has been pending in our office. The case involved a delayed disclosure of a 16 year old victim who alleged that he/she engaged in consensual sexual intercourse with the defendant, Mark Russell, while they were 16. The Police Department investigated the case and the victim’s statements to law enforcement were recorded and witnesses by other officers. Additionally, law enforcement received a written statement from the victim. In reviewing the recording, it does not appear that the victim was forced or pressured into saying anything about Mark Russell.

During the process of the prosecution we received information from the defense attorney that the victim had been interviewed by the defense investigator and in a recorded statement the victim was recanting the allegations against Mark Russell.  After reviewing the recorded statement the assistant district attorney handling this case met (in person) with the victim, her/his mother, our victim assistance coordinator, as well as the sex crimes investigator last week in our office (before the defendants arrest). During this meeting the victim and his mother confirmed that the recordings provided to my office from the defendants attorney were in fact them. The victim indicated that he did not have sex with the defendant but that he told law enforcement he had sex with the defendant because he/she felt intimidated and pressured by the police to make a statement and that if she/he did not he/she would be arrested. Again, there was no indication in the recorded or written statement of any such pressure nor was any ever disclosed to my office. The victim indicated that she/he went to the defense attorney’s office after being driven by a friend and made the statement on his/her own to the defense investigator. He/she did not provide our office as to a reason why she/he did not come to the District Attorney’s office to relay this information. Basically, in the meeting with him/her, she/he recanted his previous statements to the police. At this time, due to this current information this office is not able to proceed to the trial with this case due to the contradictory statements and the victims current statement that he/she lied and that this offense did not occur . Based on this information my office will be required to dismiss the charges against this defendant.

As you know this defendant was rearrested on charges of first degree rape, false imprisonment and impersonating an officer.  His bond was set at $13,000.  He made this bond.  Our office will review the evidence and his criminal history, in light of the situation with the case above and will take appropriate action on this defendants bond once we have reviewed everything that is available. 

The details are still unfolding in this latest case. Dunn said Russell is not talking, but he had several cameras running inside and outside of his house, which could help detectives fill in the blanks.

"The story goes the person who lives with his house boarded up and has all the cameras, that's the person who needs to be watched," Dunn explained.

The police chief says it just means his officers will hit the streets even harder.

"It's disturbing. It's a very disturbing case, yes mam. Anything involving kids and the elderly." Dunn added.

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