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Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Prayer saved woman from rape, death, police say

TAMPA — In the midst of Charlie Christopher Bates' crime spree, one of his victims read from a Bible and prayed for his soul.

Bates had already forced the woman, at gunpoint, to undress and kiss him and was about to rape her, police said. But when the woman began to pray for him, Bates' demeanor suddenly changed, police said.

He gave the woman a shirt to cover up, Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy said, and the two then prayed together. Before he left the apartment he had broken into, the woman tore a page from the Bible and gave it to Bates.

The prayers probably saved the woman's life, police said.

Twelve hours later Bates, 24, of Lakeland, was fatally wounded by police after a high-speed chase along U.S. 301 near Sligh Avenue. The fatal shots were fired about four miles south of the area near the University of South Florida where he sexually assaulted four other women, tied up four men, shot at another man and threatened a large group of partygoers during a 14-hour rampage in northeast Hillsborough County, authorities said.

Friday wasn't the first time that prayer gave Bates pause, police said.

Last month, Bates broke into a house at Busch Boulevard and Rome Avenue. He demanded money, the cell phone and jewelry from the woman who lived there, investigators said. He threatened to rape and kill her.

The woman started to pray and Bates ran away.

While breaking into the house, he cut himself on shards of glass from a shattered window. The blood collected on that day became DNA evidence and a warrant for his arrest was issued on Aug. 30, Tampa police Chief Jane Castor said.

Bates was also the suspect in a home invasion robbery that took place on Tuesday. He entered a house at 15th Street and East Comanche Avenue through an unlocked back door, police said. A couple were asleep in the room; Bates struck the man with a pistol and raped the man's girlfriend, Castor said.

He stole credit cards and was later seen on surveillance video using one near Nebraska Avenue.

Friday's manhunt began when two of the four women Bates attacked at Cambridge Woods Apartments near USF reported the rape at nearby Florida Hospital.

Bates was identified as the suspect in the rapes -- and in the home invasion near USF where the woman prayed with him -- a few hours later. At 1:21 p.m. Friday, Bates died at Florida Hospital from the gunshot wounds he received during the high-speed chase and shootout along U.S. 301.

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