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Rapist Tied to Attacks on 4 Girls Is Sought

Crime: Police say DNA evidence links the assaults, which occurred in Santa Ana and Northern California.

November 15, 2001|MAI TRAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A statewide hunt was underway Wednesday for a serial rapist who was linked by DNA evidence to the sexual assault of a Santa Ana girl last year and three others from Northern California.

Police said the rapist targeted girls who were playing or walking alone and tricked them to help fix his bicycle. He befriended them by speaking in Spanish, then lured them to isolated areas where he assaulted them, officials said.

The Santa Ana girl was riding her bike on April 22, 2000, when she nearly ran into the man, who was also riding his bike. The man asked her where he could get his bike fixed. After she gave him directions to a Target store, he threatened to kill her if she didn't come with him, according to authorities. He took her to a construction site, where he punched and choked the girl before raping her, police said. Later the disoriented girl was found by fellow church members, who called for help.

Detectives allege that the man struck again last week, raping a 7-year-old San Jose girl as she walked to school. The assailant rode up on a blue bike and lured her to a creek bed, where she was attacked at knifepoint, police said.

The rapist is also linked by DNA evidence to the March 2000 attack on a 7-year-old girl in Redwood City. She too was lured by his request for help with his bicycle. When she completed the work, he put her on his bike and took her to a field near railroad tracks, where he raped her at knifepoint. In October 2000, the man is believed to have kidnapped an 8-year-old Palo Alto girl on his bike as she was walking home from school. He took her to an isolated area and raped her at knifepoint, police said.

"In every case, he's been violent. He's not messing around," said San Jose Police Officer Joseph Deras. "He's quite bold and dangerous, and we need to get him off the streets."

San Jose police investigators input the DNA collected from the victims into a state Department of Justice database and found the matches.

"It's a big break in the case," said Santa Ana Police Officer Mario Corona. "Now we know we're dealing with a serial child predator."

The rapist's identity is unknown. He is described as Hispanic, 35 to 45 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches, heavy-set with dark wavy hair, a mustache and a beard.

The suspect may be homeless and is considered "an extremely dangerous child predator," said San Jose Police Sgt. Steve Dixon.

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