‘Dateline NBC’: John Regan is here now: Man on the run for 11 years after attacking Donna

Waterbury, Connecticut: John Regan is currently incarcerated at Bear Hill Correctional Facility in Franklin County, with a release date originally set for October 2022, according to the state Department of Corrections website. It is likely to be released in 2022. Regan has been convicted of various crimes since 1993, including the kidnapping and assault of several women. However, he gained notoriety after raping Dona Palomba at her residence in her husband’s absence.

Palomba vividly recalls the tragic events of the September 11, 1993, attacks, a date that has long instilled terror in him. During the shocking incident, a masked intruder later identified as Regan broke into her home early in the morning while her two children were sleeping and raped her.

Also Read: Who Was Behind Dona Palomba’s Sexual Assault? ‘A new episode of Dateline NBC traces the shocking 11-year journey to justice

NBC’s true crime program ‘Dateline’ will present a special report on the case on Sunday, February 11 at 9pm ET, in an episode titled, “Evil Paid a Visit.” “A Connecticut woman speaks about her years-long journey for justice and her fight to keep her attacker from going free after she was raped in her own home,” reads the official synopsis. The episode, directed by Andrea Canning, includes interviews with Donna Palomba and John Palomba, former Waterbury detective Neil O’Leary, family members and others.

Who was John Reagan?

John, a devoted husband and father of three sons, was from a respectable home in Waterbury, Connecticut. His reputation for hard work and friendliness took a dark turn in 2004 when a co-worker accused him of sexually assaulting him.

The accusation began the disgrace of John’s lineage, which revealed his involvement not only in the 2004 case but also in the 1993 attack on Dona Palomba. In that harrowing incident, John forced his way into Donna’s home, physically and sexually assaulted her, and stole her money before speeding away. Arrested and charged with unlawful restraint in connection with the 2004 case, John voluntarily provided a DNA sample. A subsequent test conclusively linked him to Donna’s case, and confirmed his guilt by a perfect match with the collected evidence.

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John Regan was convicted almost 11 years after attacking Palomba (Saratoga County Sheriff).
John Regan was convicted almost 11 years after attacking Palomba (Saratoga County Sheriff).

How did John Reagan attack Donna Palomba?

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On the night of September 10, 1993, Donna fell fast asleep on her stomach, unaware of the impending terror. A long day at work, hospital visits, and family outings had left her exhausted, and by 10:00 p.m., Donna and her children were fast asleep. Little did she know that her peaceful night would suddenly be shattered.

As Donna lies in bed, she turns her head and feels an ominous presence. In an instant, a masked intruder, later identified as Regan, swiftly and silently pounced on her. Footsteps approached, and a shadowy figure loomed over him. Regan, wearing a mask, catches Donna off guard and begins the attack. He subdued her, covered her head with a pillow, blindfolded her and tied her hands with pantyhose. In the darkness, she could only feel the ominous presence and hear the intruder’s actions until she realized she was getting a sense of the impending danger.

“I was absolutely horrified. It was surreal. I couldn’t believe I was in the middle of this. He cut my clothes off and he raped me. I was lucky enough to be able to speak and I said “I’ve never seen a soul. won’t say Please don’t hurt me.” So I begged for my life,” Palomba shared with NBC, adding how she was lucky that Regan left right after collecting all the cash without hurting her too much.

Palomba Feels Cool (NBC)
Palomba Feels Cool (NBC)

How was John Reagan convicted?

After the shocking attack on Dona Palomba in 1993, John Reagan managed to evade justice, fleeing the scene without giving authorities enough evidence to arrest him. However, in 2004, karma caught up with him when a 21-year-old co-worker accused him of sexually assaulting him. This allegation led to John’s arrest and subsequent unlawful restraint charges in connection with the summer season case.

When faced with the charges, John voluntarily provided a DNA sample. To the investigators’ surprise, the DNA pattern was a perfect match to evidence collected from the Dona Palomba case in 1993. This crucial development marked a turning point, finally connecting John Reagan to the heinous crime against Donna. The match between the DNA samples became a key piece of evidence, paving the way for justice in Dona Palomba’s tragic ordeal.

What other crime was John Reagan convicted of?

In October 2004, John Reagan faced a second indictment, this time for kidnapping. The statute of limitations for the rape charge expired six years ago, prompting the new count to be charged. In response, John pleaded not guilty to both counts, insisting that he and Donna had consensual sex in 1993. Despite his plea, he was granted bail soon after being charged. However, this freedom came with restraining orders issued against him, protecting Donna and her co-worker.

Unfortunately, the legal saga continued as John was once again in trouble. A year later, in Saratoga Springs, New York, he was arrested for assault and battery on a high school senior. These subsequent arrests added to a trail of criminal charges surrounding John Reagan, revealing a pattern of erratic behavior and raising public safety concerns over the years.

John Reagan was also convicted of other charges such as kidnapping (NBC).
John Reagan was also convicted of other charges such as kidnapping (NBC).

What sentence was announced to John Reagan?

Despite compelling evidence linking Regan to the attack on Palomba and the 2004 incident, he entered a not guilty plea and was released on $350,000 bail. After his subsequent arrest, Regan was held without bail, and during pre-trial detention, he attempted suicide without success.

Eventually, he changed his plea to guilty of kidnapping and received a sentence of 12 years in New York and 15 years in Connecticut. The sentences were served concurrently in a New York prison. Regan’s release in 2017 on the basis of good behavior brought new trouble for his victims, but he was later sent to Bear Hill Correctional Facility in Franklin County, with a release date set for October 2022.

John Reagan raped Donna Palomba in her own residence and then escaped (Mugshot-Barre Hill Correctional Facility/NBC)
John Reagan raped Donna Palomba in her own residence and then escaped (Mugshot-Barre Hill Correctional Facility/NBC)

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