Registered sex offender tries to kidnap, rape jogger in Tennessee, police say

Officials said that charges for aggravated kidnapped and attempted rape are forthcoming for the suspect, Japa Goins. (Source: WVLT)
Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 2:56 PM MDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT/Gray News) – A registered sex offender tried to kidnap and rape a woman in Tennessee as she jogged Tuesday morning, according to the Knoxville Police Department.

Officers responded to the Market Square area just after 7 a.m. for a report that a woman was randomly assaulted by a man she did not know.

Scott Erland, spokesperson for Knoxville police, said multiple bystanders rushed to help the woman, and she was able to escape with only minor injuries.

Erland said the suspect fled the scene prior to police arriving.

Multiple units worked together to identify the man as Japa Goins, 34. He was located and arrested a few hours after the attempted kidnapping, Erland said.

Goins reportedly admitted to the assault during an interview with Violent Crimes Unit investigators.

Police said Goins will be charged with aggravated kidnapping and attempted rape.

“I am incredibly proud of the great urgency and teamwork our investigators and patrol officers showed to bring this incident to an almost immediate resolution,” Chief of Police Paul Noel said. “I am also thankful for the bystanders who jumped in to help when help was needed. People should feel and be safe in every public space in our city, and we will respond quickly to address any actions or behavior that compromises that sense of safety.”

According to the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry, Goins faced two separate rape charges and two separate sexual battery charges in 2021. The rape charges were dismissed, but Goins pleaded guilty to the sexual battery charges, according to records.

The attempted kidnapping and rape Tuesday comes amid a heightened fear of safety for joggers following the death of 34-year-old Eliza Fletcher in Memphis that made news nationwide. Officials said Fletcher was kidnapped and murdered while out on a jog early Friday morning. Cleotha Henderson, initially referred to as Cleotha Abston by police, has been charged with first-degree murder in the case and is being held without bond.