Friday, April 17–Judge Gives Rapist Life After Jury Returns Verdict

SNOW HILL – It took a Worcester County jury a little over one hour last week to find a Pittsville man guilty of raping a Russian girl in a remote area off Holly Grove Rd. last September, and Judge Theodore Eschenberg needed even less time to sentence the serial rapist to life in prison.

Darrell Wayne McDaniel, 48, of Pittsville, appeared in Worcester County Circuit Court last Thursday to face several serious charges including first- and second-degree rape, kidnapping and false imprisonment after being arrested last September, following an incident involving a Russian girl he had offered a ride. After several hours of gripping testimony, the jury was handed the case around 3:10 p.m. and returned around 4:20 p.m. with guilty verdicts across the board.

Typically, in cases of such gravity, a judge will order a pre-sentence investigation into the defendant’s past before rendering a sentence, but Eschenberg apparently had seen and heard enough about the incident and similar incidents in McDaniel’s past to bypass the process. Eschenberg wasted no time handing down a life sentence for the first-degree rape charge and reportedly admonished McDaniel for his current and prior convictions.

According to the statement of charges in the case, around 1:45 p.m. last Sept. 2, the victim was at the Pines Plaza in Ocean City when she missed the bus to West Ocean City. As she waited for the next bus to arrive, she was approached by a white male, later identified as McDaniel, who asked her where she was going. When she replied she was waiting for a bus to West Ocean City, McDaniel reportedly told her he had a vehicle and was heading in that direction and offered her ride, which she accepted.

The two reportedly made small talk along the way when McDaniel said there was something he had to take care of first and pulled off Route 50 onto Holly Grove Rd., according to police reports. McDaniel drove down Holly Grove Rd. for about 200 yards before turning into a wooded area with a gravel driveway near the base of a cell phone tower. According to police reports, the victim became frightened and attempted to flee the vehicle when McDaniel grabbed her by the wrist. The victim reportedly asked McDaniel what he wanted when he replied, “you know what I want, I want sex,” according to police reports. McDaniel further explained, “In this country, when you accept a ride with someone, you are expected to provide sex in return.”

According to police reports, the victim begged McDaniel to leave her alone, offering a gold necklace or money in exchange for her release. McDaniel then put his forearm around the victim’s neck and told her to get in the back seat, then followed her to the back seat and raped her, according to the statement of charges.

According to the original statement of charges, the victim fled the vehicle and traveled on foot down Route 50 to her original destination in West Ocean City. Just before trial last week, however, it came to light the victim stayed in the car and McDaniel drove her to West Ocean City. In either case, the victim was able to get a partial tag number and a description of the vehicle, which was later traced to McDaniel. Detectives also learned McDaniel was convicted of assault with intent to rape in a similar case in Montgomery County in 1984 when he picked up a woman hitchhiker. That conviction landed McDaniel on the state’s violent sexual predator registry.

Detectives put together a photo line-up including McDaniel and several other subjects of similar description and the victim immediately identified her attacker. McDaniel was later arrested at his place of employment in Salisbury. According to police reports, when the victim identified McDaniel in the photo line-up, she began to shiver and cry and told police she “could never forget his face for what he did to her.”