A man from Southbridge has been taken into custody in New York following an alleged coast-to-coast crime spree which may have taken him as far as Oregon and North Carolina. The man fled Massachusetts in September, where he had been charged for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl. According to police, he may have been planning on returning to Southbridge in order to murder that same young girl.
Gregory J. Lewis, 26-years-old, was arraigned on August 6th of this year, for charges including statutory rape. He was forced to wear a GPS tracking ankle bracelet, and released on $1,000 bail. However, police said he removed the ankle bracelet on about September 15th, later returning to steal a gun and a car, and assaulted a relative before going on the lam.
Lewis spent the next month on the loose, evading capture, suspected of a number of crimesacross several states. He is suspected of sexual assaults and other crimes in Ohio, Missouri, Utah, Idaho, North Carolina, Colorado and Oregon. After arranging meetings with escorts at various motels, Lewis allegedly raped, robbed and beat six women to date.
His crime spree began on September 23, when he allegedly attacked a woman in North Carolina after meeting on an online dating site. According to the woman, Lewis put her in a chokehold, handcuffed her, and took her money. Last weekend, he may have been captured on video committing a robbery at a hotel in Indianapolis, Indiana.
During those weeks on the loose, Lewis allegedly told people he was planning to go back to Southbridge to murder the 13-year-old girl he had allegedly raped. He is also alleged to have told people that he wanted to get into a gunfight with police, where he would meet his end. He did get into a confrontation with police, but no shots were fired.
On Tuesday, a state trooper in New York attempted to pull over a vehicle for not having a front license plate. The car gave chase, where the driver faced with a dead-end street drove down an embankment and into the river. Lewis allegedly came out from the sinking car, waving a gun at the people that had gathered around. He was shortly after apprehended by police in the small town of Fort Edward, New York, about 50 miles from Massachusetts. According to Fort Edward Police Chief Justin C. Derway, Lewis allegedly made incriminating statements following his arrest, characterized as being "very talkative."
Before his arrest, Lewis topped the Massachusetts State Police Most Wanted list. According to Massachusetts State Police Detective Lieutenant Michael Farley, "I don't think I can speculate on his mentality, his state of mind, but it was almost like he had nothing to lose. It was his last hurrah, and he was going to go out and do as much damage as possible for as long as he could."
Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr. has said Lewis is facing 17 charges, including two counts of rape of a child aggravated by age difference. According to Early, "the people of Southbridge and Worcester County can sleep a little better at night, and Lewis will now have to answer for his crimes."