The True Story of Thomas Jabin Berry
History of Violence Pt. 2
In 1992, Susan Lee [a pseudonym] was twelve years old and living next door to Berry's mother. The Lees had known the Berry family for several years, and the families would frequently get together.
Susan testified at Berry's trial that during the early part of 1992 he was at her home while she and her babysitter were lying on the bed in her mother's room. He tried to put his hand inside her pants, but retreated when she pushed it away, and made no further attempts.
Not long thereafter, Berry was again at the Lee residence and asked Susan to help him find his nephew. Susan knew that Berry's nephew and his friends could frequently be found playing in forts they had built in the woods behind the trailer park.
Susan took Berry out to the area to help him look for his nephew. The first fort that they went to yielded no results, so they proceeded to a second. When Susan took Berry to the second fort, he threw her to the ground and raped her. Although he displayed no weapon to Susan, he told her that if she mentioned anything about what had just taken place to anyone, he would kill her mother.
Susan's mother, however, did discover what Berry had done, when a third party told her about the incident. Mrs. Lee contacted the police and filed a complaint against Thomas Berry for the sexual assault on her daughter. Again, Thomas Berry's version of the encounter differed: he said that the rape of Susan Lee was actually consensual sex. He pled guilty to indecent liberties with a minor and was subsequently placed on probation.
The assault on Susan Lee occurred in March 1992, with the alleged assault of Ann Pryor following approximately three months later. Between September 8, 1992 and February 1993, Thomas Berry was in jail. Unable to post bond, he remained incarcerated until his trial. Janet Siclari was raped and murdered six months after Berry was released from custody and put on probation.
The assault on Susan Lee and the attempted assault of Ann Pryor, placed in a timeline with the murder of Janet Siclari, not only seemed to indicate a pattern of sexual assault, but also that Berry was learning from his previous mistakes. The State contended that the Lee incident taught Berry the dangers of letting his victim live; the Pryor incident taught him the dangers of committing his crimes unarmed.