Though some in law enforcement circles knew Ularius S. Johnson, 21, of Anniston, was a suspect in the rapes, the other unrelated charges were not enough to keep him in jail while investigators connected the dots.
Johnson has not been charged with three alleged rapes that began in 2007 but local law enforcement believes he could be the serial rapist. Johnson is a suspect in at least three rapes; he has been charged with robberies and burglaries connected to those cases. Johnson has been a suspect in the rape investigation since November 2007, according to Anniston police Lt. Rocky Stemen.
On May 1 2007, Johnson was arrested and charged with third-degree escape for fleeing an officer, theft, using false identification and operating a vehicle without insurance and other misdemeanors. He was jailed and released on bond May 18, 2007.
The first rape of a woman kidnapped from the Victoria Inn occurred in November 2007.
In February 2008 Johnson pleaded guilty to some of the May 1, 2007 charges and was sentenced to two years probation.
Two more rapes followed; one in April 2008 on Blue Ridge Drive and one in May 2008 on Christine Avenue. In all three of the rapes, the rapist took his victim to an ATM to withdraw money.
In January 2009, Johnson's probation was revoked for delinquency.
On March 31, Johnson was arrested near the 1300 block of 15th Street by an Anniston police officer working with the Calhoun County Drug Task and Violent Crime Task Force. He was charged with second-degree possession of marijuana, receiving stolen property and carrying a weapon without a permit. Officers stopped a vehicle carrying Johnson and another suspect and found the marijuana and what the report describes as a stolen handgun.
In June prosecutors decided not to press the three misdemeanor charges against Johnson for the March 31 arrest. He was released June 10.
Johnson's public defender, Valerie Goudie, said the vehicle Johnson was in at the time of his arrest did not belong to her client and the state could not prove Johnson knew about the drugs or the gun.
Calhoun County District Attorney Joe Hubbard said Wednesday he knew Johnson was a person of interest in rape investigations, but he wasn't sure if he knew that when Johnson had a court hearing in June.
"I wasn't aware he had even been arrested," Hubbard said.
"Apparently there was insufficient evidence to proceed," Hubbard added. "Would it have made any difference? I don't know but I doubt it."
Chris Roberson, commander of the Drug Task Force, said he knew Johnson was a person investigators were "really interested in," but said the officers who arrested him in March did not know that.
Hubbard said Anniston police and the Sheriff's Office deserve "tons of credit" for sticking with the case until they had evidence against Johnson.
Johnson is the suspect in the Friday robbery and abduction of a Choccolocco woman and her two children. He allegedly took them to an ATM and forced them to withdraw money.