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Sheriff's spokesman spots a wanted man

Speaking to reporters, he notices a vehicle tied to an O.C. rape report and gets its plate ID.

November 13, 2007|Tony Barboza | Times Staff Writer

Jim Amormino, an Orange County sheriff's spokesman, told reporters gathered Monday at a Laguna Hills condominium complex where a rape took place that authorities were looking a person of interest who drove a light-colored Ford Explorer.

Before answering the last of the journalists' questions, Amormino spotted a light-colored Explorer circling the complex's parking lot and excused himself to write down the license plate number. Deputies tracked the driver to his home: a condo in the same sprawling complex.

"If it turns out to be an actual rape and he turns out to be a suspect, all I can say is: Sometimes people do return" to the scene of the crime, Amormino said. "We have to iron out all the details, but it appears that's what he was doing."

About 8:45 p.m. Sunday, a man in his 20s walked into a pool area of the complex on Santa Vittoria Drive carrying a six-pack of beer. He sat on a bench and talked to a young woman in the Jacuzzi, Amormino said.

When the woman tried to leave, the man grabbed her hair, threw her back into the Jacuzzi and raped her, submerging her head for as long as 90 seconds, he said.

The woman fought back but was not seriously injured, Amormino said.

Authorities have since determined that the driver of the Explorer was at the Jacuzzi at the time of the rape, Amormino said, and there was no doubt he was the man involved in the incident. He is a person of interest, Amormino said, and is being questioned but has not been arrested.

"There is not a rapist on the loose," Amormino said.

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tony.barboza@latimes.com

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