SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Seventeen years after an alleged kidnapping and rape in Salt Lake City, a second suspect has been charged following new developments in DNA analysis.
According to Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, Jose Luis Pina-Cruz, also known as “Jesus Jimenez,” 39, was charged with aggravated kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault, and aggravated robbery on Thursday.
The crimes, which took place in 2006, were allegedly committed by two men in their early twenties. The other suspect, Frank Benavidez, 37, was identified in 2018 through DNA analysis after the sexual assault kit was tested through the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI). He was already imprisoned on an unrelated murder conviction and is awaiting trial in this case.
Through the improvement of DNA technology, officials say they used other samples from the kit to identify Pina-Cruz as the second perpetrator.
In July of 2006, the victim said she was walking home in Salt Lake City when a car drove by her several times. She said a man jumped out of the car, ran toward her, and pointed a gun to her stomach telling her to come with him. She was then allegedly taken to a field with a mattress where both the driver and passenger, whom she did not know, raped her.
The suspects then allegedly stole her phone and money and “threw her out of the car,” according to court documents. The victim said she waved down a motorcyclist who called the police for her and she was transported to the hospital where they performed a sexual assault exam and collected DNA samples for the rape kit.
When police spoke with Pina-Cruz, they said he admitted to knowing the victim and being friends with Benavidez.
Documents say they both were arrested together a few months after the 2006 incident on kidnapping charges but the case was dismissed. They also said he still currently associates with Benavidez as they are both in the same prison convicted of separate murder charges.
Gill thanked those who continued investigating the case and the survivor and her family for their patience over the years.
“One can only imagine the fear and trauma for survivors and the community when an alleged assailant remains unknown and at large. There is no closure,” Gill said. “Today that vacuum of the unknown is filled, and the survivor and our community can rest easily now that all the alleged offenders have been apprehended.”