Family Beats Tallahassee Man Accused of Molesting Toddler

UPDATED 2.26.10 6:30pm

A Tallahassee man accused of breaking into a home and molesting a toddler made his first court appearance Friday.

38 year old Erik McDonald walked in, sat down and quickly hung his head. Even though he appeared via video link from the jail, you could still see the bandage on his head and the black eye that came courtesy of a toddler's family who beat him after they say they caught McDonald in the act of molesting the two year old.

"I just wondered what was going on that day that made me go over there," McDonald said. A police report says McDonald is a diagnosed schizophrenic who blamed the incident on voices in his head.

McDonald repeatedly told the judge he didn't know why he went to the toddler's home, but his lawyer promptly told him to be quiet and the judge ordered him held without bond for sexual battery and burglary.

The shocking assault took place at about 3:30 Thursday morning. McDonald is accused of breaking in to a neighbors' home on Dawn Lauren Lane. Police reports say he admitted to having sex and oral sex with the toddler as she slept on the couch.

While Erik McDonald sits in jail to await trial, the little girl's family is going to have pick up the pieces and try to cope with the aftermath of that terrifying attack.

"Her eyes were barely even open, so hopefully, she doesn't really know what's going on," her aunt said the morning after the crime.

Family members tell us the toddler is doing okay. Those who work on the Big Bend's child protection team say any family whose child has been sexually assaulted should watch for signs of temper and aggression, try to stick to as comforting a routine as possible, and must not count on a child being too young to remember.

"A lot of people think if you have something happen to a young child like 1,2,3, or 4, that oh well, they won't remember it, it won't affect them, but research has shown that's actually not the case," said Kimberly Ellis with the Children's Home Society's Big Bend Child Protection Team.

Ellis says it's important for parents and children to get counseling in the wake of a sexual assault. Often times, she says, parents have more trouble coping than children and their first impulse is not to let their children out of their sight.

Updated 9:41a.m 2-26

A Leon County judge has ordered Erik McDonald to be held without bond on sexual battery and burglary charges.

A public defender was appointed to represent McDonald.

McDonald appeared via video link from the jail. His head was still bandaged.

He told the judge he didn't know why he went to the home but his lawyer quickly told him to stop talking.

Family friends of McDonald had no comment as they left the courthouse this morning.
2.25.10 11:12 P.M. by Heather Biance

"The guy's just sick," says neighbor Trenton Pope.

Dawn Lauren Lane. a quiet dead-end road on the East side of Tallahassee wasn't so sleepy Thursday morning after 38-year-old Erik McDonald broke into a neighbors home and stands accused of molesting a 2-year-old.

"He took his shoes off and and he took his jacket off like he was making himself comfortable in my Mom's house, while everyone was sleeping," says the victim's Aunt.

McDonald, who's a diagnosed schizophrenic, admitted to Police that he had both sex and oral sex with the child after voices in his head told him to do so.

"2 years old. That's sick. The whole thing is just sick," says neighbor Anthony Baker.

An aunt walked into the living room, catching McDonald in the act. She grabbed a machete to keep him captive while another aunt and the child's mother beat him with anything in sight.

McDonald's mugshot clearly shows his bleeding forehead and a black eye.

Several neighbors agreed with the force used and say they probably would have done the same thing.

"I'm not sure I blame them for that. it was my 2-year-old," says neighbor Gordon Guthrie.

"I wasn't hear to protect my niece so it's weighing heavy on me right now," says the victim's Aunt.

The victim's Aunt says the young girl and her mother were only visiting town for a few days and were planning to head back home Thursday night.

UPDATED 2.25.10 6:45pm by Julie Montanaro

A terrifying attack in the middle of the night as a man breaks into a Tallahassee home and now stands accused of molesting a 2 year old girl sleeping inside.

The child's aunt caught 38 year old Erik McDonald in the act, and then she held him captive with a machete, while other family members began to brutally beat him.

"Kill him, kill him, kill him, because any man who does that to a child in your own home deserves to be freaking murdered," the child's aunt said. "The police walked in with a gun to his head and I was praying that they would freaking pull the trigger."

The two-year old's aunt and mother flew into a rage when they realized that a neighbor had broken into their home and assaulted the child as she slept on the couch in the living room.

"We was picking up bats, brooms, metal broomsticks, busting flower pots on his head trying to do anything we could to knock him out. My mom's holding us back saying, 'You're going to go to jail.' I'm like, 'Mom, he's in your house. I could kill him right now," the aunt said.

In his jail mug shot, you can see the bandage on Erik McDonald's head and a black eye underneath. He's now accused of three counts of sexual battery.

Police reports say he's a diagnosed schizophrenic who told arresting officers he heard voices telling him "do what you gotta do."

Police reports say McDonald admitted to having both sex and oral sex with the child.

McDonald lives at 119 Dawn Lauren Lane. A man answered our knock at the door.

"Does he live here?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Do you know where he is and what happened last night?"

"No, ma'am."

"Are you aware that he's accused of breaking into a home and molesting a kid?"

"No comment."

Neighbors tell us McDonald has lived at the home for at least two years. The landlord says McDonald has some mental deficiencies and receives help maintaining the home from a support services group.

We tried to reach McDonald's case worker for comment, but have not heard back.

The child's aunt says she has seen McDonald walking to the bus stop at the corner of Dawn Lauren Lane and Park Avenue, but doesn't know him and has never socialized with him.

She tells us the two year old and her mother were visiting from out of town for just a few days and were supposed to return home today.

Hospital staff say the girl suffered "genital trauma." Her aunt says she seems to be okay.

"I know they say she was laying on the couch. Her eyes were barely open so hopefully she doesn't know what was going on or maybe, if so, she's blocking it out but as of right now she's not talking about it," the aunt said.

We checked Leon County's court records, the Florida Department of Corrections web site and FDLE's Sex Offender Registry, and there is no record of Erik McDonald committing any crimes.

Updated 1:30p.m 2-25

The following information was provided by the Tallahassee Police Department:

On February 25, 2010, The Tallahassee Police Department responded to Dawn Lauren Lane in reference to a Sexual Battery.

Upon arrival, officers made contact with the homeowner and the victim and several family members and friends inside the residence.

The family members physically subdued the suspect who was later
identified as, Erik McDonald. While the family was detaining the suspect he sustained injuries to his head and knee from the physical altercation.

Officers say the homeowner heard the door chime which rings whenever the front door opens or closes. She initially thought it was her older children returning home from the club.

She became concerned about the chime and decided to check on the two-year-old victim that was sleeping on the couch located in the living room.

Upon entering the living room she observed a black male kneeling on the ground next to the couch where the victim was sleeping.

The homeowner noticed that the unknown suspect had his pants and underwear down around his ankles and the victim's pajama pants and underwear had been removed.

Several scratch marks were located on the inside door frame but it is unknown if the suspect used force to enter or if the front door was unlocked.

All the occupants were adamant that they had no relationship with the suspect and no knowledge of his identity.

The suspect was taken to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital where he
was receiving medical treatment for his injuries.

While at the hospital, the suspect spontaneously stated several times "I'm sorry, I need to tell you what happened".

Officials recovered several pieces of evidence from inside the residence including two couch cushions from the living
room couch, a pillow and blanket located on the floor, the suspect's jacket and one shoe from the living room floor, and the child's pajama bottoms.

The victim was transported to the Children's Home Society and a sexual assault exam was conducted. Her injuries were described as "genital trauma" by hospital staff.

Officers discovered that McDonald has diagnosed schizophrenia that results in delusions and is currently prescribed medications.

During an interview with police officers, McDonald said he is a
Rickards High School graduate and had attended Tallahassee Community College to study Computer Programming.

McDonald advised he knew the difference between right and wrong and the difference between a truth and a lie. He also admitted to taking
prescription medication.

McDonald advised he understood his rights, had not requested an attorney, and was willing to discuss the incident with officials.

McDonald indicated voices told him "people were leaving town." And that he "needed to leave." He said he tried to go get a ride so he walked to the Circle K convenience store. He spoke with a cashier and then tried to go back to his house but the voices told him he had to go "to a neighbor's house down the street."

He said he went to the victims house to get a ride. McDonald said
he knocked on the door but no one answered so he opened the front door. McDonald said the door was unlocked. McDonald said he entered the living room and saw "some girl" on the couch. He described the girl as "young". When asked how young he thought the girl was, he replied
"4, 5, or 6." He said the girl was asleep on the couch. McDonald said the
voices told him to sit on the couch.

McDonald said the voices began telling him to "do what you gotta do." McDonald said he did not want to do what the voices were telling him so he left. When asked what it was that he did not want to do McDonald said, "have sex and stuff."

McDonald said he walked down the street and almost got home but the voices told him to go back so he did. He said he did not want to leave the girl there. McDonald said he heard the girl wanted him to take her pants and her underwear off so he did. He then described how he molested the victim.

When asked if he was planning on having sex with the girl, he
said, "That's what they were telling me to do." He says he stopped what he was doing and he said it was because "the lady came in."
When asked if he would have had sex with the girl had the lady not come in, McDonald said, "I didn't want to though."

When the victim's grandmother reportedly came in and confronted
McDonald, he said the woman asked him who he was so he told her he was "trying to be (the victim's) boyfriend."

When asked if he was scared when she came in he said he
was. When asked what he was scared of he said, "being caught."
He was asked if that was because he knew what he was doing was wrong. He said, "uh huh." He then indicated he knew that even if voices are telling him to do something that he does not actually have to
do it and that they cannot make him do it.

During the interview McDonald also admitted to having touched himself while having sexual fantasies about children in the past.

McDonald denied having any child pornography or having sexually touched a child in the past.

McDonald is charged with three counts of Sexual Battery on a Child under 12 and one count of Burglary with a person assaulted.

We will bring you more information as soon as it becomes available.
Updated 1p.m 2-25

WCTV spoke with the child's family at their home this afternoon.

An aunt said she awoke to find a man molesting her two year old niece on the couch in the living room

She says they are still not sure how he got in. She says the front door was locked but not dead bolted.

The child's aunt and mother arrived at the home minutes later.

The aunt told us they began beating him with a frying pan, broomstick, flower pot and another aunt held the man captive with a machete until the police could arrive.

We will have more information as soon as it becomes available.
Updated 11:38a.m 2-25

Tallahassee Police have identified the suspect in the break in and assault as 38-year-old Erik A. McDonald who lives on the same street as the family.

We will have more details as soon as they become available.
Tallahassee Police say a man broke into a home on Dawn Lauren Lane early this morning and molested a two year old.

TPD Spokesman David McCranie says family members heard noises between 3 and 4 this morning and when they found the man in the child's room, McCranie says, they beat him severely.

McCranie is not yet releasing the man's name, but says the man does know the family. The man is hospitalized right now, but when he's released will face charges for the break in and molesting the child.

We'll bring you more information as soon as we can.

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