Terri Sanginiti of Wilmington, Delaware's The News Journal reports that a 31-year-old Elkton, Md., man by the name of Ernie Carletti — believed to be the same Ernie Carletti who joined ICED EARTH in July as the group's second guitarist — is awaiting extradition to Delaware to face charges in a 3-year-old rape and kidnapping of a University of Delaware student.
Newark police said a warrant has been issued for Carletti's arrest.
Carletti is being held in the Cecil County Detention Center as a fugitive pending his return to Delaware to face six counts of rape, and one count of kidnapping and possession of a deadly weapon during a felony.
According to police, a University of Delaware student was waiting to meet a friend about 4:50 a.m. May 22, 2003, in the first block of S. Chapel St. near the Continental Court Apartments when she was abducted at gunpoint by a man.
The assailant blindfolded the woman and bound her before taking her to another location, where he sexually assaulted her.
The victim was released across town, on West Main Street, hours later, Newark police spokesman Lt. Thomas LeMin said.
LeMin would not say what led detectives to identify Carletti as a suspect.
After detectives got the warrant, they alerted Cecil County (Md.) Sheriff's Office deputies, who obtained search warrants for Carletti's home.
Newark detectives and a deputy attorney general assisted Maryland authorities in the search, LeMin said.
The investigation is continuing as detectives pursue additional leads.
Shortly upon hearing the news, ICED EARTH leader Jon Schaffer released the following statement exclusively to BLABBERMOUTH.NET:
"Early this afternoon I learned of the situation concerning Ernie's arrest and the charges made against him. I am in complete shock and find it very hard to believe to be true. At this point I have to believe him innocent until proven guilty. I urge all others to remember that this is our way, the way of a free society. If at some point the facts prove otherwise then I will address it accordingly.
"I support our nation of laws and crimes against the innocent should not be tolerated, ever. Just as judging people without all the facts should never be accepted.
"When I have more concrete info about this situation I will post either through BLABBERMOUTH.NET or the ICED EARTH website."