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DNA evidence links Santa Rosa man to rape 17 years after he disappeared, sheriff says

Anna Bauman

October 14, 2019

San Francisco Chronicle

A Santa Rosa man was arrested last month in connection with a 2002 rape after DNA evidence linked him to the crime, authorities said Monday.

Juan Lopes, 39, of Santa Rosa, was taken into custody Sept. 13 in connection with the rape and kidnapping of a 16-year-old girl that happened 17 years ago, according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office.

In 2002, Lopes allegedly grabbed a girl walking outside in Santa Rosa and raped her in a field twice. The girl broke free and ran away, hiding inside an unlocked car nearby until he left.

Investigators identified Lopes as a suspect at the time, but he allegedly fled to Mexico. Police issued a warrant for his arrest, but he wasn’t apprehended until last month, when Lopes was arrested by the Madera County Sheriff’s Office for public intoxication.

Sonoma County sheriff’s officials then obtained a search warrant and collected a sample of the suspect’s DNA.

The DNA taken linked Lopes to the crime, officials said. He was transported to the Sonoma County Jail where he was booked on suspicion of two felony counts of rape and kidnapping.

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