Serial rape suspect in Poland, Berlin Lake indicted in Mahoning - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Serial rape suspect in Poland, Berlin Lake indicted in Mahoning County

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio -

The man accused as a serial predator in at least Mahoning and Portage Counties is facing new charges after being indicted by the Mahoning County Grand Jury, according to court dockets.

37-year-old Shawn Michael Wendling was indicted in Mahoning County on two counts of rape and kidnapping, and one charge each of felonious assault and aggravated robbery. 

Wendling is accused of the August 13th rape of a woman who was riding her bike on the Berlin Lake Trail in Portage County.

But he's also a suspect in another rape on that same trail in Deerfield Township, as well as an attack in Stark County, and the rape of a jogger in Poland Township Park just last Tuesday.

The Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification says DNA matched a relative of Wendlings in prison and ultimately linked the Hillsville, Pennsylvania man to the crime.

Detectives say Wendling was allegedly hunting his victims as he headed to and from work.  He worked in Canton as Union Metal.

Wendling told the judge, "I did not forcibly rape these women and I have not done any of these things that they're saying that I've done."

But when Wendling was arrested on Friday, detectives say not only did Wendling confess to the crimes, he cried in the back of the police cruiser.

Portage assistant prosecutor Jared Smiley said, "At this time, the prosecutor would recommend a $1-million cash bond.  This defendant is a serial rapist who would use the Berline Lake Hike and Bike Trail to find and target vulnerable women.  He would grab them, throw them down an embankment, drag them into the woods where he would forcibly rape those women in any way he saw fit, including oral copulation and sodomy."

Wendling then told the judge if he could get a lower bond it would give him a chance to see his father one last time, "My dad has been diagnosed with stage four cancer and is dying and I would love to be able to spend at least one more week with him before I get sent away for a very, very long time."

The judge decided to set Wendling's bond at $1-million cash.  If he is able to post that bond he would be placed on electronically monitored house arrest with a GPS and ordered to stay away from the victim and Berlin Lake Trail.  Wendling would also be subject to random drug testing and would have to report to a probation officer every week.

A preliminary hearing has been set in the case for Friday at 9:45 a.m. but Wendling could be facing even more rape charges by then.

RELATED COVERAGE: Police: Serial predator suspect in Poland Twp, Berlin rapes confessed to crimes

At least five summer attacks and sexual assaults at area parks are under investigation in the area.

There is no confirmation yet that the suspect may also be responsible for the rape of a 50-year-old at the Mill Creek MetroParks or an alleged rape at Packard Park in Warren. 

Wendling also allegedly confessed to an incident in Stark County Park District in which a woman was robbed. Police say there was "some touching involved". 

The victim, in that case, was reportedly able to fight Wendling off. 

The Portage County Grand Jury was also scheduled to convene Thursday, potentially adding more charges in the case against Wendling. 
 

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