SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — Police say they have arrested a Montebello man in the 2012 kidnapping and rape of a 6-year-old Santa Ana girl more than seven years ago with the help of a female relative’s DNA.
Francisco Javier Lopez, 45, has been charged with a dozen felony counts of sexual abuse of a girl under the age of 11, including kidnapping to commit a sex offense, oral copulation, sexual penetration, sexual intercourse, forcible lewd and lascivious acts and a count of dissuading a witness. Those charges include sentencing enhancements of causing bodily injury to a child under 14 and aggravated kidnapping.
Lopez’s arrest last week comes seven years after the then-6-year-old girl was kidnapped as she played in front of a Santa Ana apartment complex on July 15, 2012. The girl’s sister told CBS2’s Michele Gile that the kidnapper tried to hand the girl a piece of paper to get close enough to push her in the car.
The girl was driven to a parking lot in the area and sexually assaulted, police said. Between 90 minutes to two hours later, she was brought back to the neighborhood and told not to contact police or he would come back for her.
At the time, he was described as a Hispanic man in his 30s or 40s with black hair, a beard, a mustache and a tattoo on his arm, and police released a composite sketch of him.
Authorities had been submitting DNA from the rape to a state database for years, without results. But last year, after the state began processing female, familial DNA, investigators got a break in the case.
“The state did not have the ability until 2018 to analyze female, familial DNA, so her sample — our convicted person from Orange County, a woman — sat in the state system for four years until the science at the state level caught up,” Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said.
Lopez faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted as charged.