A man who has been on the run for nearly two decades after he allegedly dragged a 16-year-old girl into a field and repeatedly raped her has been arrested.
Authorities finally caught up with Juan Martinez Lopes, 39, last month after he had been arrested for public drunkenness in central California, according to The Press-Democrat.
DNA collected by investigators matched the 2002 attack of a 16-year-old girl from Santa Rosa, KTXL reports. He is now facing two felony counts of rape and kidnapping for the alleged attack.
“He was on the run for 17 years,” Sonoma County Sheriff’s Sgt. Juan Valencia said Monday, according to the local paper.
Lopes is suspected of kidnapping the16-year-old victim around 1:30 a.m. on March 17, 2002 as the teen was walking along the road.
Lopes approached her and called out to her, but the teen was frightened and started to run away. Investigators said Lopes grabbed the teen, dragged her into a nearby field and raped her. She was able to fight him off and get away, but he caught her again and dragged her back to the field, where Valencia said he raped her a second time.
She was eventually able to break free again and hid in an unlocked car until the man left; she eventually found a phone to call for help.
The 16-year-old later identified Lopes as her attacker in a photo lineup, but authorities believe he fled to Mexico before he could be arrested. A $500,000 warrant was later issued for his arrest, KTVU reports.
It wasn’t until his arrest in California for public intoxication, however, that authorities were able to take him into custody.
Lopes is currently being held in the Sonoma County jail on a $500,000 bail.
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