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Neighbors shocked by news of alleged Woodstock rapist

Published: Thursday, March 28, 2013 2:50 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, March 29, 2013 3:37 p.m. CST
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WOODSTOCK – Nothing looks out of the ordinary along Greenwood Avenue in Woodstock.

Dogs bark. Birds chirp. Kids play in the adjacent neighborhood park.

One probably wouldn't guess that authorities have accused a man who lived at 407 W. Greenwood Ave. of repeatedly tying up, videotaping and raping numerous women in his basement.

Charles R. Oliver, 44, has been charged in the rape of five women, including escorts and prostitutes he met on Craigslist. Prosecutors say there could be as many as 20 victims, and police interviewed a sixth woman Thursday afternoon.

Oliver's neighbors were shocked by the charges and described him as a “typical” neighbor.

“He's been a good neighbor,” said Mike Gracey, who lives directly across the street from Oliver. “My wife is handicapped, and several times he's come across and helped get her in the car.”

Gracey said he and Oliver have had several conversations in the two years since Gracey moved to the neighborhood, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

“I sit out here on the porch when the weather is decent and we converse,” Gracey said. “I've had no problems with Charles.”

Julie Randecker lives next to Oliver but said the two rarely spoke. The allegations against Oliver are disturbing to Randecker because she knows one of the victims.

In January a friend came to Randecker's house and told her that his wife had been attacked by Oliver. A week later, police arrested Oliver.

“He threatened her for quite some time,” Randecker said. “She's in fear, you know? Hopefully now he won't get out.”

Oliver is charged with multiple counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault, kidnapping and unlawful restraint. He posted bond after his initial arrest in January, but he was charged in February with harassing the boyfriend of one of the alleged victims.

Oliver's bond was increased Tuesday to $3 million from $300,000. He would need to post an additional $255,000 to be released.

“This kind of thing you don't expect here in the small town of Woodstock,” said Randecker, who said she feels less safe in her home.

“We now have a gun in the house,” she said. “You're a little more on edge. ... It's creepy that it's in our backyard. Literally in our backyard.”

“It's a little scary,” said Jeff Varys, who lives down the street from Oliver. “I have a 3-year-old, and having kids and a family changes how you look at things.”

Varys said he never noticed women coming or going from Oliver's house, but said Oliver occasionally had women over for pool parties.

“He had parties, women in the pool over there,” Varys said. “But nothing that raised an eyebrow. Nothing abnormal.”

Oliver's next court date is April 12. He could face between 95 and 120 years in prison if convicted, Assistant State's Attorney Sharyl Eisenstein said.

• Northwest Herald reporters Sarah Sutschek and Shawn Shinneman contributed to this report.

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