ELIZABETH, NJ - An Elizabeth man was sentenced to a total of 148 years in state prison after being convicted for 60 crimes, Union County First Assistant Prosecutor Albert Cernadas Jr. announced Thursday.
Rasheed Powell, 43, was sentenced by state Superior Court Judge Robert Kirsch, who described Powell’s crimes as collectively constituting an “incomprehensible hell.”
Powell robbed, psychologically tortured, and sexually assaulted four couples staying at local motels over the course of six weeks in 2012.
“Your reign of terror ends here, now,” Kirsch told Powell.
The crime spree, which began on Saturday, March 10, 2012, consisted of Powell targeting couples checking into motels along U.S. Routes 1&9 in Elizabeth and Linden, according to Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit Supervisor Caroline Lawlor and Assistant Prosecutor Tracy Boyd, who prosecuted the case.
Powell would force his way into the motel rooms at night and order the couples to engage in sexual acts at gunpoint, then order the males into the bathroom while he sexually assaulted the females in the adjacent bedroom, also at gunpoint, Lawlor and Boyd said.
Kirsch specified Thursday that the crimes encompassed various forms of sexual assault, as Powell additionally taunted the male victims in the process by forcing the female victims to loudly compliment him, later threatening to kill them and their families if they reported what happened to police.
Using DNA and other forensic evidence, a joint investigation by the Prosecutor’s Office’s Sex Crimes Unit (today known as the Special Victims Unit), the Elizabeth Police Department, and the Linden Police Department, assisted by the Union County Sheriff’s Office and Union County Police Department, resulted in Powell being identified as a suspect in the case. He was arrested on Monday, April 16, 2012 while at Springfield Municipal Court, where he was responding to a traffic summons.