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California authorities have arrested a suspected serial rapist who allegedly attacked six women, leaving one with a broken leg in a ditch for days before she was rescued.
Jose Manuel Martinez Garcia, 35, is now facing 14 felony counts—including four counts of rape and four counts of attempted murder—after authorities allege he sexually assaulted six different women from September 2020 to August 2021, according to a statement from Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin.
“This is a serial rapist and the level of violence here is stunning,” Hestrin said in a press conference to announce the charges.
According to Hestrin, authorities believe Garcia often approached the victims in his truck while they were walking on the street or somewhere in public. He allegedly tried to run two of the victims down with his vehicle.
“One of the victims sustained a broken leg and was left in a ditch in Thermal for two and a half days before being found and receiving medical care,” he said.
The woman survived by drinking water that was running in the ditch and was eventually found by a maintenance worker.
Three of the victims were also strangled until they lost consciousness, Hestrin said.
Investigators believe Garcia “may have known” at least some of the victims.
After a “lengthy investigation into several violent sexual assaults,” by Indio Police detectives and the Riverside County Sheriff’s office—in collaboration with the FBI—Garcia was arrested on Oct. 5.
While he was initially charged with sexually assaulting four victims, detectives were ultimately able to link him to two more victims and the criminal complaint against him was amended Friday to add the additional victims.
“This is a heinous crime and bad acts but this is a good day and it brings forth charges on this individual who is in custody and off the street,” Indio Police Assistant Chief Chris Shaefer said during the press conference.
Shaefer praised the collaborative effort between police, the sheriff’s office and the FBI for making the arrest.
“This is bringing all of the resources of the Coachella Valley together to identify this individual, arrest him, get him off the street and now he’s in the capable hands of the justice department where he can be prosecuted by the Riverside County (District attorneys),” he said.
Hestrin declined to discuss how investigators were able to link Garcia, a Mexican national, to the string of rapes, but said authorities were “very confident” about the evidence in the case.
Hestrin believes it's possible that there may be other victims and urged anyone with information about the case or who may have been attacked by someone with a similar pattern to contact authorities.
Investigators believe Garcia drove two separate vehicles during the alleged crime spree: a Chevrolet Silverado and a white Dodge Ram. He reportedly lived in Coachella Valley, Bakersfield and in the Orange County area near Westminster before his arrest.
Garcia is currently being held without bail.
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