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Neighbor admits raping Cliffside Park girls after break-in as mother slept

Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT)
Photo Credit: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: A Cliffside Park man today admitted raping two pre-teen sisters, biting one of them on the back, after breaking into their home.

Serkan Seyrek — who will be sentenced to 28  years in prison under a plea deal with prosecutors — described in horrifying detail the early-morning Feb, 2012 attacks that put the East Bergen community atop the Palisades on edge for seven months before he was caught.

Seyrek, 22, said he attacked the 9-year-old girl first, threatening to kill her if “she told anyone or made any sound.”

He said he then ran to her 11-year-old sister’s bedroom and assaulted her the same way before the girls’ mother woke up, discovered what was happening and fought him off.

Seyrek, who lived around the corner from the victims, left fingerprints on doorknobs in the house — and on other those he tried in the neighborhood — as well as blood on the girls’ bedsheets, according to his attorney, Savyon Grant.

The blood came from cuts he sustained earlier that morning when he pulled a knife on his mother and the two struggled over it, the lawyer explained.

Seyrek said this afternoon that he heard helicopters after he returned home hours after the attacks, indicating that police were looking for him. Although his mother wanted to take him to the hospital for treatment of his cuts, he said he refused.

“I believed it would implicate me [in the rapes],” Seyrek told Presiding Superior Court Judge Liliana DeAvila-Silebi.

Serkan Seyrek in court today

He also said he later had trouble sleeping because of what he’d done.

Seyrek originally contended that police caught the wrong man after an extensive manhunt led to his Sept. 7, 2012 arrest.

The girls’ mother called police after waking up at 6 a.m. Feb. 22, interrupting the attacks and chasing him out the front door, Bergen County Prosecutor John L. Molinelli and Cliffside Park Police Chief Donald Keane said in a joint statement later that morning.

“A passerby in a motor vehicle heard the homeowner screaming to stop” the assailant and ran after him, the statement said.

Others on Washington Avenue, seeing what was happening, joined in.

The attacker headed west, turned south on Grove Street and then bolted into a backyard at the corner of Lincoln Avenue before vanishing.

A necklace he was wearing was broken off by the girl’s mother as she pulled Seyrek off her daughter. A piece of it was found inside the house and another near a fence that he jumped as he fled, prosecutors said.

Authorities released images of the string-type necklace during the manhunt. It had an attached piece of circular black colored cloth with “serv_n” engraved on it. The second-to-last letter was missing.

Seyrek became a “person of interest” after Cliffside Park police arrested him for breaking into the Elks Club on Anderson Avenue and stealing a bottle of cognac.

Keane credited Detective Sgt. Sean MacKay with obtaining enough information in an interview with Seyrek for authorities to bring the charges.

McKay today told CLIFFVIEW PILOT today that Seyrek “was very anxious, more than for the crime he was accused of would warrant.”

Suddenly, the sergeant said, Seyrek asked him whether anyone had been arrested in the assaults. McKay took his fingerprints and kept in contact with Seyrek until authorities could draw up an arrest warrant.

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Catherine Fantuzzi said Seyrek traveled to Turkey after the assaults and planned to return if he wasn’t arrested.

Seyrek has remained held in the Bergen County Jail even after his bail was reduced from $1 million to $600,000.

Under his deal wiht prosecutors, he must serve 23 years, nine months and 22 days of his sentence before he will be eligible for parole, in exchange for pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated sexual assault and one count of burglary. Seyrek also must register as a Megan’s Law offender upon his release and remain on lifetime parole supervision.

Assistant Bergen County Prosecutor Catherine Fantuzzi, defense attorney Savyon Grant, Serkan Seyrek during today’s plea in Superior Court, Hackensack
(STORY / PHOTOS: Mary K. Miraglia, CLIFFVIEW PILOT Courthouse Reporter)

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