Man gets life in prison for rape committed in 1987

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Virginia Beach Circuit Court Photo by Adrienne Mayfield
Virginia Beach Circuit Court
Photo by Adrienne Mayfield

A man convicted of raping a woman in Virginia Beach 29 years ago was sentenced to life in prison Monday.

Benjamin James Madonia, 56, was convicted by a jury in February of raping a 22-year-old woman on May 29, 1987, according to a release from the Commonwealth’s Attorney for the city of Virginia Beach. The woman had come to the city from Pennsylvania for the summer and worked as a waitress.

Around midnight, Madonia offered to give her a ride home from the Oceanfront, the release said. He took her to a parking lot, beat her, choked her and raped her repeatedly. She fled and went to a hospital, where physical evidence, known as a Physical Evidence Recovery Kit or PERK, was preserved. DNA testing was not available at the time. The police did not apprehend her attacker.

In 2014, the Department of Forensic Science subjected the victim’s PERK to DNA testing, and found a match to Madonia, the release said. His DNA was in the DFS database based on a previous crime he had committed.

After a jury trial, Madonia was convicted on Feb. 25, 2016 and faced a life sentence. Circuit Court Judge James C. Lewis imposed the sentence Monday.

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Joan Quigley is a former Miami Herald business reporter, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and an attorney. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, TIME.com, nationalgeographic.com and Talking Points Memo. Joan Quigley is a former Miami Herald business reporter, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and an attorney. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, TIME.com, nationalgeographic.com and Talking Points Memo. Her recent book, Just Another Southern Town: Mary Church Terrell and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Nation’s Capital, was shortlisted for the 2017 Mark Lynton History Prize. Her first book, The Day the Earth Caved In: An American Mining Tragedy, won the 2005 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.