Man charged with homicide, kidnapping has history of arrests

Antonio Velazquez-Rupert, 36, has faced more than a dozen charges, including jail time for assault, theft and drug crimes

The baby girl that was abducted in Sharpsville Saturday afternoon is doing OK, while police are investigating the death of the girl's mother.
Antonio Velazquez-Rupert

SHARPSVILLE, Pa. (WKBN) – WKBN searched Pennsylvania’s open court records Sunday to see Antonio Velazquez-Rupert’s criminal background.

Velazquez-Rupert, 36, was arrested Saturday in Reading City on charges of homicide, kidnapping and custody interference.

Police located him following an incident in which they said he took his eight-month-old daughter, Ariella Downs, from a Sharpsville apartment where the baby’s mother, 28-year-old Amanda Downs, was found dead.

From what we discovered, Velazquez-Rupert has been in and out of court — as well as jail — since he turned 18.

The former Reading resident has faced more than a dozen charges since 1998, including jail time for assault, theft and drug crimes.

He has been charged three separate times with assault and harassment, pleading guilty to one assault charge in 1998.

His latest arrest came just three months ago in September when he was charged with simple assault. As of Dec. 9, he was awaiting a formal arraignment for that charge — for which he was out on bail — in Mercer County.

“It’s the very beginning of the investigation,” said Chris Hosa, Sharpsville police chief. “The scene was processed, several pieces of evidence were collected. The next step is that the evidence will now be transported to the Erie crime lab for analysis.”

Pennsylvania State Police credit an “observant Reading citizen” for spotting Velazquez-Rupert’s car Saturday afternoon around 3:30 p.m.

An Amber Alert was issued for eight-month-old Downs around 3 p.m. It stated that she might be with Velazquez-Rupert.

“Literally 38 minutes later, that vehicle was spotted and stopped by the Reading Police Department on a traffic stop,” said Gerald Smith, Sharon police chief. “The subject is in custody and the baby is with family.”

It’s a tragedy that has sent shock-waves through the small community of Sharpsville.

“Being that it is close-knit, when something like this happens, it is a shock,” Hosa said. “It’s a shock to everyone.”

Velazquez-Rupert will be brought back to Mercer County.

According to Mercer County Corner John Libonati, the cause of Amanda Downs’ death still has not been determined. Authorities tell us to expect more information to be released sometime Monday.

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