THE 11-YEAR-OLD girl who was repeatedly raped in Kensington earlier this week was well enough yesterday to take her first step on what is likely to be a long road to recovery.
The youngster was released from St. Christopher's Hospital for Children and was "trying to rest and take it easy," said her mother, Demetrice Reynolds.
Reynolds noted that she and her daughter were still amazed by the group of justice-seeking Kensington residents who gained national attention on Tuesday, when they beat and captured Jose Carrasquillo, the man police had identified as a "person of interest" in the case.
"Actually, we are surprised" by the residents' actions, she said. "I plan on inviting them to a welcome-home party for my daughter."
Carrasquillo's condition was upgraded yesterday from critical to stable at Temple University Hospital, where he was being treated for head wounds suffered in during the beating, which unfolded outside a conveinence store at Front and Clearfield streets.
Police officials said rape charges could be filed this week against Carrasquillo, who investigators "linked through physical evidence" to the rear yard on Westmoreland Street where the young girl was raped Monday morning.
The victim, a fifth-grader at Conwell Middle School, was attacked after she dropped her sister off at a day-care center.
Carrasquillo's troubles aren't expected to end there.
Investigators are now examining several unsolved rape cases that occurred in the Kensington area to determine if Carrasquillo was involved, police sources said.
At least two victims have contacted detectives and suggested that Carrasquillo might have attacked them, the sources said.
Carrasquillo, who has 17 prior arrests, was accused in 2002 of trying to rape a woman in Kensington. Those charges were later dropped.
Fraternal Order of Police President John McNesby said a $10,000 reward that he will present today will be shared by at least two Kensington residents who identified and helped capture Carrasquillo, 26.
The FOP issued the reward after police identified Carrasquillo.
Many in law enforcement — whose pleas for community help sometimes go unanswered — were surprised when numerous Kensington residents offered to catch Carrasquillo themselves.
"This case affected nearly everybody," said Capt. Daniel Castro, of the 24th District, in North Philadelphia.
"Law-abiding citizens were out there with police officers. We even had chronic drug dealers coming up to us, wanting to see his picture. That tells me there is some code, even among the criminal element."
While pleased with the community support, Castro added that police were opposed to violent vigilantism.
Another man, Michael Zenquis, told police he was attacked by a separate angry mob in Kensington Tuesday.
"Apparently, they assumed he was [Carrasquillo] and beat him up," Castro said.
Zenquis, who could not be reached for comment, suffered minor injuries but declined to press charges, Castro said.
"We don't condone it. The best solution is to just call 9-1-1," Castro said.