Cops: Discarded Water Bottle Helped Solve 1999 Rape

2 friends accused of 11-year-old's rape, abduction
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 18, 2016 6:25 AM CST
Ismael Salgado, left, and Jose Plascencia.   (Santa Ana Police Department)

(Newser) – An 11-year-old girl's kidnapping and rape in Santa Ana, Calif., may be solved after 17 years thanks in part to a discarded water bottle. For years, detectives had few leads apart from a surveillance video from a gas station showing a man in a van covering the girl's mouth with his hand while an unknown man pumped gas, police say, per KTLA. However, DNA evidence taken from the victim was recently submitted for analysis. Two DNA profiles emerged. One matched DNA from 36-year-old Ismael Salgado, who lived in Santa Ana in 1999, police say, per the Los Angeles Times. The second sample didn't match any in California or national databases, but detectives soon identified an old friend of Salgado's who had also lived in Santa Ana at the time of the crime.

While following Jose Plascencia, 36, in Arizona, detectives saw him throw away a water bottle and retrieved it for analysis. DNA from the bottle then proved a match to the case. According to police, Salgado and Plascencia dragged the victim and a friend into their van on Feb. 3, 1999, as the girls were walking home. The friend was able to escape, but when the victim tried to do the same, the suspects "pulled her back in by her hair," a police rep tells KABC. They stopped to get gas, then raped the 11-year-old repeatedly at two different locations before releasing her, police allege. Both men are now held at the Orange County Jail on suspicion of kidnapping to commit a sex offense and forcible rape, per the Orange County Register. Bail is set at $1 million each. (Police have a new lead in a girl's 1957 murder.)

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