SANTA ANA — A 45-year-old Lyft driver is scheduled to be sentenced in October for raping a woman he was driving home nearly two years ago, according to court records obtained Monday.
Jorge Tapiacastro was convicted Wednesday of rape by use of drugs, rape, sexual battery and false imprisonment, all felonies. He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 1.
The victim was dropped off by her husband at a friend’s home in Costa Mesa on Aug. 31, 2019, where she drank four or five vodka sodas with a handful of friends, according to a trial brief from prosecutors.
About 9:30 p.m. that night she and two of her friends took an Uber ride to the Bungalow bar in Huntington Beach where she drank three to five more vodka sodas, prosecutors said.
About 12:30 a.m., Sept. 1, she used the Lyft app to call for a ride home, prosecutors said. She was picked up about 12:50 a.m. by the defendant, who pulled over about a half mile from her residence in Orange, got out and then got into the backseat with the victim, who said she had passed out, prosecutors said.
The defendant told the woman she was “beautiful” before he forced himself on her for a few minutes, prosecutors said. Then he got out and she also exited the vehicle before the defendant drove off, prosecutors said.
The woman called her friend and told her she was raped and didn’t know where she was, prosecutors said. Her friend told her to call her husband and she repeated the same to him, prosecutors said.
Her husband managed to find her around La Veta Avenue and Glassell Street and took her home before later taking her to a local hospital, prosecutors said.
The woman’s blood-alcohol level was .131 and DNA evidence linked Tapiacastro to the assault, prosecutors said.
SANTA ANA — A 26-year-old man was behind bars Monday on charges of molesting three teenage boys in an afterschool program at a charter school in Anaheim.
Justin Dean Evans is charged with four counts of lewd acts on a minor younger than 14 and one count each of committing a forcible lewd act on a child and an attempted lewd act on a child younger than 14, all felonies.
Evans worked in an after-school program for Goals, a charter school in Anaheim, when he met the boys and allegedly sexually assaulted them in 2018 and 2019, when they were about 13 years old, according to Anaheim police Sgt. Shane Carringer.
Evans, who is being held on $1 million bail, is scheduled to be arraigned June 30 in the jail courtroom in Santa Ana.
ANAHEIM — A 69-year-old self-proclaimed “spiritual healer” who does business in Anaheim was charged Wednesday with raping two women.
Leopoldo Garcia Garcia was charged with two counts of forcible rape, according to court records. One victim was allegedly raped Aug. 11 and the other on Oct. 1, 2018, according to the criminal complaint.
Garcia also faces a sentencing enhancement for multiple victims.
Garcia was in custody at the jail in Anaheim in lieu of $100,000 bail, but freed after posting bail, so the charges filed Wednesday include a warrant for his arrest with a $1 million bail requested.
One of the alleged victims, who is in her 40s, said she was sexually assaulted multiple times over the last several weeks when she came to Leopoldo Garcia for his services at his business Botanica El Padrino in the Anaheim Market Place at 1440 S. Anaheim Blvd., said Anaheim Police Department Sgt. Shane Carringer.
Garcia, also known as Leo or Curandero, bills himself as a spiritual healer who tells clients that he can help them remove a curse on them if they have sex with him, Carringer said.
Investigators are concerned there may be more alleged victims and asked for anyone with relevant information to call detectives at 714-765-1617.
SACRAMENTO — Forty years after a sadistic suburban rapist terrorized California in what investigators later realized were a series of linked assaults and slayings, a 74-year-old former police officer is expected to plead guilty Monday to being the elusive Golden State Killer.
The deal will spare Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. any chance of the death penalty for 13 murders and 13 kidnapping-related charges spanning six counties. In partial return, survivors of the assaults that spanned the 1970s and 1980s expect him to admit to up to 62 rapes that he could not be criminally charged with because too much time has passed.
Yet nothing is certain until he actually speaks in a Sacramento State University ballroom pressed into use as a courtroom to provide for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’ve been on pins and needles because I just don’t like that our lives are tied to him, again,” said Jennifer Carole, the daughter of Lyman Smith, a lawyer who was slain in 1980 at age 43 in Ventura County. His wife, 33-year-old Charlene Smith, was also raped and killed.
Investigators early on connected certain crimes to an armed and masked rapist who would break into sleeping couples’ suburban homes at night, binding the man and piling dishes on his back. He would threaten to kill both victims if he heard the plates fall while he raped the woman.
Gay and Bob Hardwick were among the survivors.
They are now looking forward to DeAngelo admitting to that 1978 assault. The death penalty was never realistic anyway, she said, given DeAngelo’s age and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s moratorium on executions.
“He certainly does deserve to die, in my view, so I am seeing that he is trading the death penalty for death in prison,” she said. “It will be good to put the thing to rest. I think he will never serve the sentence that we have served — we’ve served the sentence for 42 years.”
A guilty plea and life sentence avoids a trial or even the planned weeks-long preliminary hearing. The victims expect to confront him at his sentencing in August, where it’s expected to take several days to tell DeAngelo and Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Michael Bowman what they have suffered.
All four brothers were successful, but “Keith, the youngest of all of us, was the smartest,” he said. “It’s just such a loss. And every time this comes up I think of all the lives he would have saved as an emergency room doctor.”
Their father found the couple two days later.
“It was so gruesome,” Harrington said. ”My dad was never the same.”
The killer racked up a series of monikers for his crimes over the decades.
East Area Rapist.
Original Night Stalker.
Diamond Knot Killer.
But it wasn’t until years later that investigators connected a series of assaults in central and Northern California to later slayings in Southern California and settled on the umbrella Golden State Killer nickname for the mysterious assailant whose crimes spanned 11 counties from 1974 through mid-1986.
The mystery sparked worldwide interest, a best-selling book and a six-part HBO documentary, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark,” that premiered Sunday.
It was only the pioneering use of new DNA techniques that two years ago led investigators to DeAngelo, who was fired from the Auburn Police Department northeast of Sacramento in 1979 after he was caught shoplifting dog repellent and a hammer. He previously had worked as a police officer in the Central Valley town of Exeter from 1973 to 1976, near where the Visalia Ransacker struck more than 100 homes south of Fresno.
Investigators painstakingly built a family tree by linking decades-old crime scene DNA to a distant relative through a popular online DNA database. They eventually narrowed in on DeAngelo with a process that has since been used in other cases nationwide, but said they confirmed the link only after surreptitiously collecting his DNA from his car door and a discarded tissue.
His defense attorneys have publicly lobbied since then for a deal that would spare him the death penalty, though they did not respond to repeated requests for comment before Monday’s hearing.
Prosecutors who had sought the death penalty cited the massively complicated case and the advancing age of many of the victims and witnesses in agreeing to consider the plea bargain.
“Death doesn’t solve anything. But him having to sit though a trial or preliminary hearing, that would have helped,” said Carole, who said neither she nor her slain father believed in capital punishment.
She was so committed to seeing the case through that she temporarily moved from Santa Cruz to her adult daughter’s Sacramento home, where she has slept on an air mattress in a spare bedroom. She has told the story of her father’s death and her own recent experiences through podcasts called The Lawyer’s Daughter.
But she said it “absolutely” makes sense for prosecutors to agree to a life sentence without parole, both to spare older victims and witnesses who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus from having to appear in court, and to save taxpayers the $20 million projected cost of a trial.
Harrington supports the death penalty, but also agreed with prosecutors’ decision “just to give some degree of closure.”
“This will be a relief for all of us, to move on with our lives,” said Hardwick. “We’ve dealt with the effects of the attack for 42 years.”
These are the charges faced by DeAngelo. The charges linked to rapes were filed as kidnappings to commit robberies because the statute of limitations for sexual assaults has expired.
Contra Costa County:Four counts of kidnapping to commit robbery using a gun and knife between Oct. 7, 1978, and June 11, 1979, with the victims identified as Jane Does numbers 10-13.
Orange County:Four counts of murder in the Aug. 21, 1980, slaying of Keith Harrington, 24, and rape and slaying of Patrice Harrington, 27, of Dana Point; the Feb. 6, 1981, rape and slaying of Manuela Witthuhn, 28, of Irvine; and the May 5, 1986, rape and slaying of Janelle Cruz, 18, of Irvine.
Sacramento County:Two counts of murder in the Feb. 2, 1978, shootings of Kate Maggoire, 20, and Brian Maggoire, 21, as they walked their dog in their Rancho Cordova neighborhood.
Nine counts of kidnapping to commit robbery using a gun and knife between Sept. 4, 1976, and Oct. 21, 1977, with the victims identified as Jane Does numbers 1-9.
Santa Barbara County:Four counts of murder in the Dec. 30, 1979, rape and slaying of Debra Manning, 35, and slaying of Robert Offerman, 44, of Goleta, and in the July 27, 1981, slaying of Gregory Sanchez, 27, and Cheri Domingo, 35, of Goleta.
Tulare County:One count of murder in the Sept. 11, 1975, slaying of Claude Snelling, 45, during an attempted kidnapping of the victim’s daughter from their home.
Ventura County:Two counts of murder in the rape and slaying of Charlene Smith, 33, and slaying of Lyman Smith, 43, of Ventura between March 13 and March 16, 1980.
Source for charges: Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.
IRVINE — A man who has alleged in a lawsuit against the Diocese of Orange that he was molested by a Roman Catholic priest when he was 6 years old in 1994 said Monday that Diocese officials have attempted to “intimidate” him.
Last week, a judge cleared the way for the public identification of the priest, Father Edward Poettgen, who was most recently assigned to St. Boniface Catholic Church in Anaheim. The man suing him held a news conference Monday from the offices of his attorneys to say the Diocese has treated him “like an enemy of the church.”
The man, whose name was not released, said he reported the priest in January of 2019 so he could find some sort of healing.
“Instead of treating me with compassion Bishop (Kevin) Vann has treated me as an enemy of the church,” he said. “They served subpoenas on my mother, my girlfriend and my employers, hoping to intimidate me but I will not be intimidated. I find strength in knowing that my actions will protect other children.”
The man told reporters, “I’m not a scared little boy anymore.”
Poettgen has been placed on administrative leave, Diocese spokeswoman Tracey Kincaid said. She added the Diocese would not comment further on the pending litigation.
Attorney Vince Finaldi, who represents the plaintiff, said he deposed Poettgen last month, when the priest said he was still in active ministry at the church.
The plaintiff claims Poettgen molested him while he was enrolled as a student and in the parish of St. Polycarp Catholic Church in Stanton in 1994 and 1996.
“They’ve known about this for over a year and haven’t informed parishioners,” Finaldi said last week. “It’s crazy.”
Finaldi said Poettgen served on a board of consultants that decided to settle all its lawsuits in 2007 alleging clergy sex abuse.
“They say he doesn’t have any other allegations against him, but we’ve heard that before and proven it wrong,” Finaldi said. “We’ll have to see what the discovery turns up.”