Katie McDevitt, Tribune
He packed his car, withdrew his cash and planned to slip quietly into Mexico. But the escape was cut short Friday morning as Chandler detectives closed in.
Police then arrested the man on suspicion of sexually assaulting five girls and attacking another in the Chandler Rapist crime spree that spanned 18 months, police announced Saturday.
Santana Batiz-Aceves, 39, a twice-deported illegal immigrant with a history of drug charges, was arrested about 11:49 a.m. Friday at his Chandler home near Arizona Avenue and Ray Road. He was booked into Maricopa County’s Fourth Avenue Jail on suspicion of 25 felonies, including kidnapping, child molestation, sexual abuse, sexual conduct with a minor, aggravated assault, burglary and trespassing.
He is being held without bond.
“From the beginning of this investigation, we have believed that help from our community and good, old-fashioned police work were the most likely avenues to solving this series of crimes,” Chandler police Chief Sherry Kiyler said at a news conference Saturday. “This has turned out to be the case.”
Police said DNA links Batiz-Aceves, a heavy equipment operator, to three of the sexual assaults. Items found in his car and house also link him to the attacks, police said.
Kiyler said the arrest unfolded Friday morning when detectives were working a saturation patrol in the area of the rapes.
A Chandler task force detective spotted a white two-door Toyota Tercel matching a car described in a Nov. 8 home intrusion linked to the Chandler Rapist.
Police followed the car and stopped it about 7 a.m. Friday near North California Street and Ray Road. During the stop, a detective noticed a jacket in the car matching descriptions provided by two victims.
Batiz-Aceves first told detectives his name was Ricardo Ramirez Lopez and that he lived in Casa Grande and was in Chandler for work and to find a friend, Kiyler said. When police asked to swab his cheek for DNA, he refused.
Officers kept a close watch on the man and obtained a court order for his DNA, but when they tried to contact him at his home, they said he was attempting to leave.
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