Suspect in child rape is found dead
WARREN – An elderly Baltimore area man, who was charged last week with raping a Cortland girl on two different occasions while camping in Trumbull County, was found dead inside his jail cell Sunday afternoon.
Cortland Detective David Morris said he was on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and on his way to pick up Howard Garfield, 81, of Townson, Md., when he learned that corrections officers in Baltimore were called to Garfield’s cell about 12:45 p.m. Sunday after he suffered an apparent heart attack.
A cause of death was pending with a medical examiner there but was believed to be due to natural causes. Jail staff performed CPR on Garfield before he was taken to Union Hospital in Elkton, Md., where he was pronounced dead, according to Cecil County Sheriff’s Lt. Michael Holmes. Holmes said there was nothing suspicious about Garfield’s death and no indication of suicide.
Garfield was to be brought back here after waiving extradition to face the two counts of rape that carry potential life sentences.
Garfield, who frequently visited here, was a longtime friend of the 11-year-old victim’s family and admitted to the crimes in a taped interview with Baltimore County Detective Dana Kaczynski.
Morris credited Kaczynski and Garfield’s son, Michael Garfinkel, with breaking the case.
”Mr. Garfinkel was the key to this case. He did the right thing and it wasn’t an easy choice for him to make,” Morris said, explaining that Garfield disclosed to Garfinkel that he had been a pedophile since he was about 22 years old. ”He was phenomenal. His information helped us get a search warrant.”
”Sometimes the truth hurts. But this was the right thing to do,” Garfinkel said Monday afternoon.
Garfinkel said his father had expressed remorse for his actions, but the son also was instrumental in getting his father admitted for treatment.
An affidavit prepared by assistant Trumbull County prosecutor Gabe Wildman and Morris said Garfield first made admissions to a social worker in the hospital. The social worker contacted Morris May 3.
Wildman said the charges would be dismissed against Garfield as soon as he receives verification from Maryland of the suspect’s death.
Garfield admitted to having inappropriate contact with the girl through sexual text messages since the attack that took place in a pop-up camper on the property of the victim’s family.
Morris contacted the family and found that the victim’s mother had just been made aware that Garfield had been sending her daughter text messages that made references to cuddling, kissing and bathing with each other. He reportedly refers to the victim as his ”girlfriend,” according to the affidavit that served as an arrest warrant.
Morris learned the suspect changed his name from Garfinkel to Garfield in the 1950s. Garfield also admitted to Kaczynski that he sexually assaulted his ex-wife’s sister when he was 22 years old and she was 9-years-old.
Garfield admitted to Kaczynski that he would wait until the Cortland girl fell asleep before digitally assaulting her inside the camper.