A man accused of a crime spree in Florida, which includes a rape and a homicide, was arrested after an alleged carjacking and police chase in Atlanta over the weekend, authorities said.
Taiwan Levon Blandin, 30, of Frostproof, Fla., was spotted in a Honda that had been carjacked in the 300 block of Edgewood Avenue at about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, Atlanta police said. Officers tried to pull the car over, but the vehicle’s driver sped off before losing control and crashing.
Blandin allegedly tried to run away before an officer used a Taser on him, ending the chase.
Brittany Bartlett, 19, of Charlotte, N.C., was also in the vehicle and was arrested, police said. She was charged with four felonies, including aggravated assault, armed robbery and first-degree hijacking of a motor vehicle, Fulton County jail records show.
The Polk County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office had previously obtained eight felony warrants against Blandin after a string of violent crimes took place Oct. 1, according to a news conference the sheriff’s office uploaded to Facebook two weeks ago.
Sheriff Grady Judd said detectives determined that Blandin broke into an 18-year-old woman’s house in Fort Meade early in the morning. He said the suspect, who was nude, stood over the teenager when she woke up before he held a knife to her throat and raped her. AJC.com does not identify victims of alleged sex crimes.
He allegedly stole two handguns and two rifles from her house before hogtying the teen, wrapping her in a blanket and tossing her in his car.
Blandin drove her to a mobile home in Frostproof, where he met an 80-year-old woman at her front door, Judd said. The two spoke to each other before he entered the house.
Detectives later learned that he shot the woman twice, once in the stomach and then in the head “execution” style,” Judd said. She was holding her dog, Kelly, when she was shot, and the dog was also injured, breaking a foot and suffering cuts from the first bullet.
Authorities haven’t identified the woman who was killed, but her neighbors told Tampa Bay-based news station WTVT that her name is Peggy Shiering, a former teacher.
While Blandin was inside the mobile home, the teen in his car was able to untie herself and drove away to a friend’s house to call authorities, Judd said. However, Blandin allegedly pulled up to the house shortly after she arrived in Shiering’s red van, and he began shooting at her.
The teen wasn’t struck, but an 81-year-old woman in a wheelchair was shot in the foot, Judd said. Blandin then fled in a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. The teen told police she recognized her attacker as Blandin, who was her husband’s friend in high school.
When detectives later arrived at the mobile home, they spotted smoke bellowing from the structure, Judd said. Before Blandin left, he allegedly piled plastic bottles and clothes on top of the stove in an attempt to burn the place down.
A trail of blood from the house also led to a big patch of blood in the home’s yard, which detectives later figured out was from the injured dog.
Before Blandin’s arrest, he allegedly called his family members, including his brother who is a Polk County bailiff, telling them that if cops try to arrest him he will either kill himself or have the cops kill him in a shootout, Judd said.
The sheriff called this “one of the more tragic cases we’ve had in awhile,” adding that Blandin has an “absolute total disregard for life.”
Blandin was booked into the Fulton County Jail, where he faces 13 charges in Atlanta in addition to the charges out of Florida, jail records show.
He waived his first court appearance Tuesday and remains in jail without bond. His next scheduled court date is Oct. 29.
Blandin’s charges in Polk County include first-degree murder, first-degree arson, armed kidnapping, sexual battery with a deadly weapon, armed burglary, grand theft of a motor vehicle, grand theft of a firearm and tampering with evidence, the sheriff’s office said. In Florida, there is no formal rape charge, but it instead falls under the state’s sexual battery statutes. Wauchula, Fla., police also have active warrants for his arrest.
“We are grateful that this violent, armed and dangerous suspect is in custody and his crime spree has come to an end,” Judd said in a Facebook post after Blandin’s arrest. “The Atlanta Police Department did an awesome job. Based on the felonies he's racked up, he likely won't spend another day on the street. He's behind bars where he belongs.”
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