The DeLand Police Department has made an arrest in a sexual battery case from Nov. 21, 2019.
Rodrigo Reyes, 48, was arrested exactly two months after a 31-year-old female with a broken hand and wearing only a sweater flagged down a passing vehicle in the 400 block of East New Hampshire Avenue in DeLand and reported being sexually battered.
The alleged victim reported that she was walking in the neighborhood of Parsons and Beresford avenues when she was forced into a black Ford Mustang by a tall Hispanic male, taken to a secluded area, and sexually battered. She also reported being run over by the vehicle.
“Her clothes were strewn where the alleged crime took place,” DeLand Police Chief Jason Umberger said at a press conference Jan. 22.
Evidence collected during a sexual-battery exam conducted on the alleged victim was sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Umberger said, but the results have yet to come back.
After reaching out to community members, investigators were able to pinpoint Reyes as a suspect, according to Umberger.
In addition, two other females told investigators they were also sexually battered by a male matching the description, but had not reported the crime due to what Umberger called “their lifestyles.”
Investigators located Reyes at his home in DeLeon Springs Nov. 22, but he denied knowing the victim. The alleged victim identified Reyes as her attacker, and identified a black Ford Mustang located at Reyes’ DeLeon Springs home as the vehicle used in the crime.
A search warrant executed on the black Ford Mustang produced an article of clothing from the victim, Umberger said.
Reyes was under police surveillance on Jan. 21 when he was seen one block from the initial crime in a gray Toyota Camry, according to the department.
He was arrested and, in an interview with police, Reyes admitted to being in the area to solicit prostitution, Umberger said.
Reyes is charged with kidnapping, sexual battery, and driving without a valid license.
The identification of the suspect was possible because of relationships officers had with community members, Umberger said.
“This was outstanding investigative work by our investigators. Because of the relationships they have in the community, they were able to talk to people,” Umberger said. “The information they were given led them to this area of DeLeon Springs and the suspect… it was truly a cooperative effort.”
Reyes has no prior records of sexual battery in Volusia County, although he was arrested in Daytona Beach in 2014 on a charge of soliciting prostitution.
Additionally, the Police Department is currently in contact with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“We don’t believe he is a citizen,” Umberger said.
According to DeLand Community Information Specialist Chris Graham, police believed Reyes was targeting women in the area.
“If there are other victims that have been sexually battered, we are certainly interested in talking to them,” Umberger said.