Rockford's Independent Newspaper

Sexual assault suspect now charged with attempted murder

By Jim Hagerty

ROCKFORD — The man arrested last month for allegedly sexually assaulting  a woman in Roscoe is now charged with attempted murder in the case, Winnebago County State’s Attorney Marilyn Hite Ross announced Thursday.

Matthew Harkey, 43, of Rockford, was arrested Thursday, March 14, and charged with home invasion, aggravated criminal sexual assault, unlawful restraint and residential burglary. The case was later sent to a grand jury, which  returned a 21-count indictment that adds allegations of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated criminal sexual abuse and aggravated stalking.

Harkey was arrested near Macon County, after leading police on a chase and crashing the Nissan Rogue he was driving. Police say he fled the area after he kidnapped a woman from her Rockford home on LaMar Avenue and brought her to a home in the 5900 block of McDonald Road.

According to court records, he allegedly wrapped the 34-year-old victim’s head with duct tape before stuffing her in the trunk of her car and taking her to Roscoe. In the basement, the victim said Harkey hit her in the head with a bottle, choked her, strapped and handcuffed her to a weight bench and raped her twice over a two-hour period.

The victim said after Harkey left, she dragged the weight bench up the stairs and out of the house. Naked and still cuffed to the bench, she walked down the street and screamed for help. A neighbor called police. Officer with the Roscoe Police Department arrived around 1:30 p.m. The victim was transported to the hospital by ambulance.

We as prosecutors and law enforcement are cognizant of the sensitivity and the nature of these charges and the courage that it takes for the victim to come forward,” Hite Ross said. “Sexual assault impacts the health of many individuals who are victims, and sometimes that impact can be long term–physical and psychological.”

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“Sexual assault is a crime of violence,” Hite Ross said, adding that while victims are often not comfortable telling their stories to law enforcement, it is wise to talk to a trusted person who can help sort through the trauma.

“Statistics show that it is a long healing process,” Hite Ross said. “And until you share the violent nature of the incident with someone, it’s very hard for victims to move on and start that healing process.”

Court records show that Harkey is a registered sex offender. He is scheduled to appear in court April 30 at 9 a.m. R.


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