Release of ‘Pillowcase Rapist’ to force new neighbor to relive childhood horror
By Cristina Corbin
Published June 25, 2014
Nearly 60 years after a neighbor snatched toddler Sharon Duvernay from her family’s backyard and raped her, the now-retired school teacher is getting a new neighbor — the infamous “Pillowcase Rapist,” a serial sex offender responsible for at least 40 attacks in the 1970s and 1980s.
Christopher Hubbart, 63, who confessed to raping at least 40 women in Los Angeles and San Francisco between 1971 and 1982, will be released from a state psychiatric facility and placed in a home in Lake Los Angeles by July 7, Capt. Don Ford of the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station, a subdivision of the Los Angeles County Sheriff, told FoxNews.com Wednesday.
Hubbart will reside in a small, one-story white house in a neighborhood off Avenue R and 203rd Street in Lake Los Angeles, a rural, desert community in the northeast corner of Los Angeles County where Hollywood movies and commercials were once made.
“I don’t think about it everyday but certainly with him coming I do…I’m terrified.”
– Sharon Duvernay
While sheriff’s deputies have pledged to do all they can to ensure safety, residents are daunted by the imminent release of Hubbart, who earned his grim moniker for the method of his crimes: binding victims’ hands before pulling pillowcases over their heads to silence their screams.
For Duvernay, the news of Hubbart’s placement brought back a trauma the former elementary school teacher had worked her entire life to overcome. Duvernay recounted how she was kidnapped and raped in 1955 when she was just three by a neighbor in New Orleans. The attack prompted Duvernay, the youngest of five, and her parents to relocate to California.
“The pain never goes away,” said 62-year-old Duvernay, who lives on five acres and who will become Hubbart’s closest neighbor. “I don’t think about it everyday but certainly with him coming I do…I’m terrified.”
“It’s just so ironic. His patterns are exactly like the guy who attacked me,” she said. “We tried to do everything within the law to keep him from moving here. We collected more than 12,000 letters to the judge.”
Duvernay, who now wants to move, said she plans to buy guard dogs and update her security system as well as install cameras on all sides of her home.
“We’re putting better lighting everywhere and we’re thinking about barb-wired or razor-wired fencing,” she said. “Regular activities, like taking out the trash, and every little noise will put me on high alert.”
“He [Hubbart] was released once and he raped 19 women,” Duvernay said. “The second time he was released, he tried to pull a jogger into the bushes. I think he’s very ill and has no impulse control. He will absolutely try to do this again.”
Hubbart has been confined to a mental health facility since 1996. Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey petitioned the state Supreme Court in July 2013 to block Hubbart’s release, but the court denied her request, prompting widespread protests from residents.
“Mr. Hubbart, we believe, is still a very dangerous man,” Ford said. “Although he’s been in prison for a long time and received mental health treatment, we know from experience that people can repeat their offenses.”
“Sexual offenders can do well in a controlled setting,” he told FoxNews.com. “But when given more freedom, the risk for a repeat offense increases.”
“The proof is in the pudding,” said Ford, alluding to repeat assaults by Hubbart after he was released from a state hospital in 1979. He was later convicted for assaults in the San Francisco area and readmitted to a mental health facility. Following his parole in 1990, he attacked a female jogger and was imprisoned again.
Law enforcement declined to release the name of the landlord who is renting the property to Liberty Health Care, the company responsible for monitoring Hubbart for several weeks after his release. Plans for Hubbart to live in another home in the same community were scuttled amid neighborhood opposition, but the unidentified owner of the house where Hubbart will live has a strong incentive to rent it through the state, according to Palmdale Mayor James Ledford. He told The Associated Press the state would pay about $2,400 per month for a home that would normally rent for just $500.
Christine Ward, executive director of the Crime Victims Action Alliance, said Hubbart does not belong outside of prison.
“The fact that he’s been paroled once before and was unable to behave is of grave concern,” Ward said. “I am shocked that he is being released into a residential community. My hope is that he will be very closely supervised.”
Hubbart will not be on probation or parole, law enforcement says, but he will wear a GPS ankle bracelet and register as a sex offender with the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station, one of 23 subdivisions of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department directly tasked with security matters surrounding Hubbart.
“Clearly this wasn’t our choice for placement either,” said Capt. Patrick Nelson of the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station. “But we’re confident we have a good response plan, at least for the first portion of the reintegration when he [Hubbart] will have 24-hour supervision” by a state contractor who supervises sexually violent predators.
Nelson and Ford, who works from neighboring Palmdale, both said that Hubbart will be “very closely monitored” and that additional patrols of the area will be conducted.
“The ankle bracelet tells us where he is, but not what he’s doing,” Ford said. “He’s free to go anywhere.”
“We’re asking the public to educate themselves on Mr. Hubbart and what he looks like,” he said, while also noting that, “We want to make sure nobody unfairly attacks Mr. Hubbart and takes the law into their own hands.”
Denise Squires, another Lake Los Angeles resident, echoed Duvernay’s concerns.
“I’m afraid for myself, for my daughters and my granddaughters,” she said Wednesday. “After all the protest, I was shocked by the news and very surprised to see them fixing up his house with taxpayer money.”
Squires, an area resident for 28 years, said she has “zero” confidence in law enforcement’s supervision of Hubbart.
“It’s very isolated out here and we don’t have enough patrolling to begin with,” she said. “I’ll be looking over my shoulder every place I go. He [Hubbart] looks like an everyday guy. I would never know if he were standing right next to me.”