By Derek Simmonsen, Fort Pierce, Fla. Tribune
FORT PIERCE, Fla. - When officer Christopher Guadagno acted on a hunch last year, he was hoping only that it would help investigators break a serial rapist case.
It did help break the case, and it also led to a year's worth of honors that culminates Sunday with a short profile of Guadagno in the nationally-distributed Parade magazine.
Guadagno received honorable mention in the 2004 Police Service Awards, sponsored by Parade and the International Association of Chiefs of Police and will be recognized at a November ceremony.
"Never in a million years did I imagine that," Guadagno said. Guadagno's role in the serial rapist investigation proved to be crucial in solving the case. The investigation started in September 2003 after a 9-year-old girl was kidnapped and raped, and a similar incident involving a preteen girl occurred a month later.
Several other assault attempts occurred in the next few months. Guadagno responded to a call about a fight involving a man named Frederick Lamar Mitchell.
Guadagno had been suspicious of Mitchell before, and offered the injured man a towel to get a sample of his DNA. The sample turned out to match evidence left at the crime scenes. Mitchell was arrested Dec. 22 and charged in the crimes.
Since then, Guadagno has been named Fort Pierce Police Officer of the Year by the department and other organizations. He also received letters of congratulation from, among others, FBI Director Robert Mueller.
"It makes you feel good, that the hard work was worth it," said Guadagno, an eight-year member of the department.