Police: Stolen Cell Phone Led To Rittenhouse Square Rape Suspect
By Jenn Bernstein, Jim Melwert, and Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Police have identified the suspect arrested for the rape of a woman in the Rittenhouse Square section of the city over the weekend.
Investigators say 27-year-old Milton Garcia, also known as Milton Garcia-Vazquez, is facing rape and related charges for the assault late Friday night (see related story).
Garcia was taken into custody Monday night and was charged sometime overnight. And federal authorities say he is an illegal immigrant who had been kicked out of the US a year ago (see below).
Investigators say Garcia was picked up from his workplace near Broad and Christian Streets. Investigators say they also recovered the bicycle the suspect was seen walking in surveillance video (see related story and video).
The attack happened around 1:20am Saturday near 19th and Spruce Streets, in the Rittenhouse Square neighborhood.
Video footage showed the man lying in wait for his 26-year-old victim. He walks his bike to a street sign and locks it up, watching a 26-year-old woman as she passes. Then the video shows him follow her, grab her, force her up the street and into her building.
That’s where, police say, he raped her then stole her keys and her phone. He then left, but went back to terrorize his victim some more.
Then, he’s seen in the video leaving, casually walking to his bike.
Capt. John Darby of the Philadelphia Police Department’s special victims unit said today that the stolen phone helped lead to the defendant’s neighborhood.
“We were targeting that area from the very beginning,” Darby said this morning. “There was a very short period of time that the victim’s phone gave us an indication to that neighborhood, but not to that specific location. As a result, the investigators then began their pretty extraordinary work and narrowed down the scope and actually targeted a residence.”
It was Garcia’s residence, where police say they recovered the victim’s cell phone.
According to police, her keys were found on Garcia when he was taken into custody. And they say he gave a statement, all leading to charges against him.
Investigators say three men who had been brought in for questioning were released (see related story).
Philadelphia police commissioner Charles Ramsey praised the victim for playing a key role in helping police to make the arrest.
Late this afternoon, federal authorities disclosed that suspect is here illegally and had been removed from the country in June of last year.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), part of Homeland Security, identifies the suspect as Milton Garcia-Vazquez, a Honduran citizen.
ICE has lodged a “detainer” with local law enforcement, which means the defedant will be turned over to federal authorities whenever local authorities are done with him — which would include trial and after any sentence if he is convicted in the rape-robbery. He’s currently being held without bail.