Police say Merced man tortured girlfriend, held hostage since late summer

10/28/2009 12:12 PM

10/29/2009 12:01 PM

Unimaginable.

That's how one police officer described the sexual and physical ordeal of a woman held hostage for months, allegedly by her boyfriend.

Merced police rescued the woman Tuesday from a North Merced apartment that they called a "house of horrors" where her boyfriend raped and tortured her for months.

The police department said 37-year-old Daniel Ruben Gonzalez will be charged with aggravated assault, rape, torture, sodomy and false imprisonment. The charges were contained in a news release issued late Tuesday.

Investigators believe Gonzalez had been holding his live-in girlfriend inside their apartment in the 3200 block of Denver Avenue since at least mid-August.

"We unfortunately see a lot of domestic violence cases, but we haven't seen anything this violent for quite a while," police Lt. Matt Williams said. "It's unimaginable what this woman went through."

Police said they discovered the abuse after a woman showed up at the department's central station Tuesday around 5 p.m. and told officer Lance O'Brien that her ex-boyfriend had just let her go after hours of abuse inside his apartment. She told O'Brien that the man's current girlfriend was still at the apartment and in danger, police said.

O'Brien immediately left for the scene. Gonzalez answered the door and denied that he'd abused anyone. Police said that as Gonzalez and the officer spoke, Gonzalez's girlfriend -- her face bloodied and bruised -- appeared behind him and mouthed the words, "Help me."

O'Brien tried to arrest Gonzalez, but he resisted, police said. The two men fought until backup arrived and officers were able to handcuff Gonzalez, Williams said.

Authorities said interviews with both victims, who officials declined to identify by name, revealed what police described in a press release as a "house of horrors."

Investigators believe Gonzalez refused for months to let his girlfriend leave their apartment. They say he subjected her to beatings, rapes, sodomy, burnings and stabbings. Police said she told them that Gonzalez tried to cut off her fingers and that he once stabbed her and left her to bleed until she lost consciousness.

"She told (O'Brien) that he literally saved her life," the press release said.

Authorities believe Gonzalez's ex-girlfriend -- the one who reported the abuse to police -- had been held for less than a day before Gonzalez let her go. She told police she went to his apartment willingly, but that he blocked her from leaving. He then beat her and forced her to fight with his current girlfriend.

Williams said investigators believe Gonzalez and his current girlfriend had been together for about three years and that they have no children together. He couldn't say whether she reported any earlier incidents of abuse or whether Gonzalez has a criminal record.

Investigators also couldn't say whether Gonzalez has a job or whether he ever left his victim alone. "We do know that he wasn't allowing her to leave the house," Williams said. "I'm sure there was a lot of intimidation involved."

Williams said the victim received medical treatment after her rescue and that officers referred her for counseling and domestic violence support services.

Gonzalez remained in Merced County Jail on Wednesday in lieu of bail.

Reporter Corinne Reilly can be reached at (209)385-2477 or creilly@mercedsun-star.com.

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