By Tara Kyle and Tom Liddy
LOWER EAST SIDE - A Bronx man was nabbed for a pair of terrifying knifepoint sexual attacks on teenage girls on the Lower East Side - threatening to behead the victim in one instance, according to cops and court documents.
Joseph Quirindongo, 20, was picked up at 12:15 a.m. in connection with the harrowing assaults at the LaGuardia Houses on Madison and Clinton streets.
He faces a slew of charges including criminal sexual assault, burglary and attemped sexual abuse, according to the criminal complaint.
The suspect allegedly struck for the first time on Jan. 18 2010, following a 19-year-old girl into an elevator at a building on Cherry and Montgomery streets at 7:30 a.m. and taking out a large knife.
When they got off, the victim tried to flee, but Quirindongo took out a second knife and demanded that she perform a sex act on him, according to court papers.
He then sexually assaulted her, the documents said. The victim was treated and released from a hospital, according to cops.
Then this year, on April 14, Quirindongo, who has a sealed arrest from 2008, followed a 17-year-old girl into an elevator at a building on Clinton and Madison Streets, court papers said.
He allegedly told the victim, "If you don't do what I say, I'll cut your head off" and held a knife in front of her face.
Quirindongo then dragged the girl by the hair into a stairwell and tried to sexually assault her, but she was able to fight him off, court papers said.
At his arraignment Saturday, prosecutors said that the suspect allegedly left behind DNA and was spotted on surveillance footage casing both scenes.
Quirindongo was held in lieu of $100,000 cash bail or $500,000 bond. His next court appearance is May 11 at 10 a.m.
The attacks have rattled the public housing complex.
"I started screaming, 'They caught him! They caught him! I was praying they would catch him," said Maria Santiago, 44, home health aide who woke her daughter with the news around 8:30 a.m.
"That's all anybodys talking about," she said.
Krystie Bastieas, of Brooklyn, said that had stopped running convenience store errands at night at the complex, where her boyfriend lives.
"For a little bit I felt unsafe," she said. "My boyfriend was scared for me to go out."
"I'm definitely relieved. The neighborhood overall isn't that safe. But the women especially will feel better now."
And Gladys Mercado, 63, a dental assistant said: "Thank god. Its a relief for the whole neighborhood."
A spokeswoman for the city Housing Authority said: "Some buildings at LaGuardia have cameras and we have plans in place for security enhancements (i.e. additional cameras and layered access) but it has been in the works and is not in response to this incident."
"Maintaining the safety and security of our residents is of utmost importance to NYCHA," she added.