Sheriff's deputies are looking for the man who beat, raped and sodomized an 80-year-old northern Merced County woman and are hoping the public can provide some extra clues. The man and his sport-utility vehicle were caught on a service station surveillance videotape.
Deputy Paul Barile, spokesman for the Merced County Sheriff's Department, said the woman, who is from the Hilmar-Turlock area, underwent emergency surgery at a Modesto trauma center and is expected to recover from her injuries in the Nov. 15 incident.
The man who drove the elderly woman to a canal bank and sexually assaulted her before returning her to a Turlock convenience store is described as Latino, between 25 and 30 years of age, with dark hair and eyes and weighing 140 to 160 pounds. He is between 5 feet, 4 inches and 5 feet, 6 inches tall and has a mustache.
"This despicable act cries out for the public's assistance in bringing this perpetrator to justice," Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin said.
Barile said the woman, who lives at a Turlock-Hilmar area residential care facility, went out for a walk about 4 p.m., became tired and was approached by a man in a dark blue or black Dodge Durango SUV at First Street and Golf Road who offered her a ride. She got in, believing he would take her back home.
Instead, the man went to a self-service Chevron station at Lander Avenue and Highway 99 in Turlock where he bought a couple of sodas and was seen on the surveillance video at the counter. The Durango he was driving has a luggage rack and conspicuous damage to the right front corner of the hood.
"The bar has been lowered another notch," Pazin said. "I thought we had plateaued with the Rosa Avina murder. This was a heinous crime and we just can't have this thug on the street. We need to bring this guy in."
Barile said the man drove the woman around northern Merced County for about an hour before he assaulted her. He dropped her off at a convenience store at Lander Avenue and Highway 99 where she was observed bleeding very heavily. Police and an ambulance were summoned and the woman was airlifted to a Modesto hospital where she underwent emergency surgery.
Barile and Pazin were not sure if she had returned to the residential care facility but was doing fine now and has been talking to detectives. The department's Major Crimes Unit is investigating the assault.
"Any information about the suspect or the vehicle would be appreciated," Barile said. "We need to know who this guy is and where he can be located. Detectives are on standby around the clock and all information is confidential."
The public is asked to call the department at 209-385-7445.
"This was a cowardly crime, disgustingly brutal," Barile said.
Associate Editor Doane Yawger can be reached at 209-385-2485 or firstname.lastname@example.org.