City crews board up abandoned Orange Mound home where suspected rape took place

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Abandoned homes plague neighborhoods across the Mid-South.

Not only are they eyesores, but they're often havens for crime.

That was the case this week as a man armed with a knife dragged a Melrose High School student who was walking home from school into an abandoned home and raped her.

Crews were seen boarding up the property Wednesday afternoon. They tell us it was done for the safety of the community.

A sign is now on the front. door after we push for the process to be expedited.

Georgia Winston has lived next door for two years with her two children.

She says it's not only the curb appeal that concerns her, but also the crime.

"They need to hurry up and knock it down," Winston said. "I've been calling on this house since I basically moved here, because lately a lot of people have been coming over here doing stuff."

She thought it was set to be demolished.

Memphis Public Works Director Robert Knecht since the sick news of the sexual assault broke an officer went out to check out the property.

"He's written it up. We have two violation orders, one for rehabilitation and the other for board and secure. The rehab means the owner needs to take action to address the structural issues that were identified. The board and secure means it's open to casual entry which is what may have happened in this case," Knecht said.

Then they will contact the owner, and that takes time.

"Generally we have to give them notice. They have to have time to take action, and if they don't then we can then use our resources and put a lean on the property," Knecht said. "In certain conditions we have the right if it is emergency public health and safety."

He stood by his word.

Within minutes of our interview ending he emailed me saying the place would be secured tomorrow, citing it as a public safety issue.

But clearly the timeline moved up as we saw crews boarding up the place within an hour of the interview.

We tried to contact the owner of the crumbing building ourselves.

Public records show the owner listed as Todd Allen F II, and we went to the address listed too a home in Berclair.

Looking ahead, those active in the Orange Mound community say this recent assault is a reminder of the importance of communicating and working together.

"We have a lot of things that we need to do, and one of them is engage each other as residents to create the observers, watchers and protectors of the community," resident Britney Thornton said.