Store clerk attacked days before child abducted and raped

Malcolm Gerlach will spend the rest of his life in prison.

Story Published: Jun 4, 2010 at 1:49 PM PDT

By and staff

ROSEBURG, Ore. – Before Malcolm Gerlach had raped the 10-year-old girl.

Before he had grabbed her by her hair, pulled her into his car and drove off.

Before he had rammed the small stolen sedan into the girl as she rode her bike down a Eugene street.

Even before he spent time in the Coos County Jail after allegedly driving drunk and crashing a stolen car in Coos County.

Before all that, police said Gerlach walked into a tuxedo shop in Roseburg and tried to abduct and rape a clerk.

She got away.

So did he. But not for long.

Gerlach’s crime spree came to a horrifying conclusion in Eugene when he abducted and raped a 10-year-old girl off a quiet suburban street.

Police rescued the girl an hour later after a chase in the Lane County countryside and took Gerlach into custody.

His trail of tragedy unfurled across Western Oregon in a sad series of, in hindsight, what could appear to be missed opportunities: Gerlach was jailed and later released in Douglas County for driving a stolen car, then later arrested and released in Coos County for the same before arriving in Eugene.

In between those two arrests, police believe he attacked the woman in the Roseburg tuxedo store.

That case came to a conclusion this week. Gerlach pleaded no contest to attempted rape, attempted sex abuse and unauthorized use of a vehicle in Douglas County circuit court. The judge tacked another 62 months on Gerlach’s sentence.

The sentence isĀ academic at this point: After a Lane County jury rejected Gerlach’s insanity plea, Judge Debra Vogt sentenced him to 130 years in prison.

“I think we need to recognize some monsters don’t just exist in fairy tales,” Vogt said. “They’re out there walking among us.”

And others, like the 27-year-old Gerlach, are serving out the rest of their natural lives chipping away at more than a century of prison sentence.

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