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    Man, 21, held in assault on baby

    The 9-month-old, kidnapped, molested and left for dead, is found in nearby woods. A family friend is charged.

    By LINDA GIBSON

    © St. Petersburg Times,
    published September 23, 2001


    TAMPA -- A 9-month-old girl who was kidnapped, raped and left for dead in the woods early Saturday morning survived and was in stable condition Saturday night at Tampa General Hospital.

    Randolph Standifer, 21, of 4255 W Humphrey St. in Tampa, has been charged with kidnapping, capital sexual battery and attempted first-degree murder.

    According to Hillsborough Sheriff's Col. David Gee, Standifer told detectives he had taken the baby from her crib sometime after 6 a.m Saturday. Standifer, who was a friend of the baby's family, had spent Friday night in their home.

    He told detectives that he drove the baby, clad only in a diaper, to a dead end several blocks from her home, Gee said. Climbing over two fences, he carried her into some woods in the Citrus Park area of northwest Hillsborough County.

    He tossed aside her diaper, raped her, tried to strangle her and then left her, said Gee.

    Hour later, deputies following Standifer's directions went into the woods expecting to find a body.

    But then one heard a small cry.

    They stopped, listening.

    Detective Mike Conigliaro saw a tiny hand thrust up from the ground under a layer of leaves and branches. Although dehydrated and covered with insect bites, the baby was alive and conscious.

    Gee thinks she must have heard the searchers.

    "She couldn't have survived much longer," said Gee, who had to stop and compose himself while describing what had happened to the baby. She had been in the woods for about 10 hours.

    When found, "she would not let go of (Conigliaro)," he said.

    Standifer was one of seven adults and three children who spent Friday night in the small mobile home where the child lived. Most were family members: the baby's mother, father, grandmother and other relatives. They are not identified to preserve the child's privacy.

    There was a lot of drinking before everyone went to bed, said Gee.

    At 9:10 a.m., the baby's grandmother was awakened by a daughter returning from work. The grandmother went to the crib in the living room to change and feed the baby, and discovered the child was gone.

    The baby's mother called 911 at 9:30 a.m. Saturday to report her daughter missing, said Gee.

    Deputies and detectives swarmed the neighborhood and interviewed the family. The only person missing from the group who had been in the house Friday night was Standifer, said Gee.

    Details of Standifer's arrest were not available Saturday. He was held without bail.

    Asked if the suspect had said why he would rape and try to strangle a 9-month-old girl, Gee shook his head.

    "I don't think you can explain that," he said.

    Records show Standifer, a groundskeeper for Cypress Trail Farms in Odessa, has a history of three arrests in Hillsborough County; for robbery in 1997 and for cocaine possession in 1998 and 1999.

    State Department of Children and Families spokeswoman Shawnna Lee said the department had investigated a previous report about the family in February and had instructed the parents to get counseling. The children were not removed from the home and the family no longer was under supervision, she said.

    "They were doing very well," said Lee.

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