DETROIT — A man accused of breaking into civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks' house did not know she lived there, but recognized her once inside, police said Friday.
"He said: 'Aren't you Rosa Parks?' She said, 'Yeah,' and he went ahead and robbed her anyway," Detroit Police Investigator Daniel Budz said.
Joseph Skipper, 28, was arraigned Friday on three charges: two counts of breaking and entering and unarmed robbery, and one count of breaking and entering with intent to commit larceny. The charges involve three alleged burglaries of elderly women's homes.
Magistrate Margaret E. Baylor entered a plea of not guilty for Skipper, who faces up to 15 years in prison on the charges, and ordered him held on $150,000 bond.
Skipper also had an outstanding $5,000 bond for failing to appear in court in July on a charge he had broken into a church on Christmas Day.
Skipper declined comment outside the courthouse. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for Sept. 13.
Parks, 81, was beaten Tuesday and robbed of $53. She was treated at a hospital and released several hours later.
Assistant prosecutor Tim Kenny said Skipper has confessed to breaking into Parks' house as well as the homes of a 78-year-old woman and an 84-year-old woman.
Skipper's mother, Lula Skipper, said jail might be the best place for her son.
"I want him to get better and get off the drugs, but it's going to take time for him to get straightened out," she said.
But police are worried that jail could be dangerous for Skipper, who already faced an angry mob when he was arrested because of the alleged assault on the revered civil rights figure.
"They tried beating him up on the street. You can imagine what they'll try to do in jail," Budz said.
Skipper was escorted to and from the court by two Detroit police officers and was being kept away from others at the Wayne County Jail, Budz said. He declined to say whether Skipper has been threatened.
Parks helped launch the civil rights movement in 1955 when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man. She has lived in Detroit since 1957.