Grandma of accused rapist: ‘He needs to be punished’

Grandma of accused rapist: ‘He needs to be punished’

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by BEN THOMPSON / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Follow: @BenTNews | Email

WCNC.com

Posted on September 3, 2013 at 5:33 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 3 at 8:16 PM

GASTONIA, NC -- Rodney Helton, 21, appeared briefly in court Tuesday afternoon for a judge to formally read the three charges filed against him: first degree rape, first degree kidnap, and first degree attempted murder.

During the brief court hearing, the prosecution saluted the work of Helton's grandmother, Brenda Smith, who called 911 when she noticed her son speed off from home with a woman tied-up in a car he was driving.

"As he backed out, she held her hands up like this and they were tied," Smith told NBC Charlotte.  

The subsequent hours-long manhunt for Helton combed through Mt Holly neighborhoods. Police stopped and searched cars on local roads near the Creek Walk subdivision on Hickory Grover Road. Neighbors were told to stay in their homes as a precautionary measure.

Police finally captured Helton, and the alleged victim was discovered with cuts to her neck. She's expected to recover.

Smith said concern for the woman, who Smith doesn't know, is what motivated her to get police involved.  

She said Helton's marriage recently fell apart and she thinks he may have turned to drugs. He'd been living with his grandparents.

"In the past couple of months, he's been really distorted."

Smith said she's comfortable with her actions, although they harm her grandson.

"I think he needs to be punished for what he done. That doesn't mean I love him any less," she said.

Helton's next court appearance is set for September 23. His bond is set at $500,000.

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