RIVERSIDE – A suspect was arrested Monday night in connection to the abduction of a 9-year-old Riverside girl earlier this month, police announced at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.
Jose Wilson Rojas Guzman, 30, of Riverside, is suspected of kidnapping the girl in the middle of the night as she was sleeping in her apartment late on May 7. He allegedly threw her from his car in a nearby neighborhood in what might have been an attempt to kill her, according to police officials.
The child was severely injured during the incident and was eventually taken to Loma Linda University Medical Center hospital. She has since been released and is recovering from her injuries.
“Yesterday, we received a confirmed hit on the DNA we collected at the scene, from the child and, pursuant to a search warrant, from Mr. Rojas Guzman,” Riverside police Chief Sergio Diaz said Tuesday.
Police say the child’s mother, who is a bartender, was at work while her three kids — ages 12, 9 and 3 — were at home. Police say Guzman entered through an unsecured window at the apartment on Herman Drive and Pike Street and took the girl while the children were sleeping.
Police say Guzman assaulted the little girl before throwing her out of the vehicle he was driving in a residential neighborhood near Challen Park, which is close to the Corona city border.
Surveillance cameras at the apartment complex and in the neighborhood where the girl was found helped police identify a pickup truck they believe was driven by the kidnapper. Guzman was in a similar pickup truck when officers spotted him on May 9, police said.
Asked if the victim could identify Guzman, Riverside Det. Roberta Hopewell said the victim “is still telling me she doesn’t remember.”
About an hour and a half after she was taken, the girl was wandering the streets of the nearby neighborhood, knocking on doors and asking for help from residents. Residents of the homes she went to told police the girl appeared to be drugged.
“There are no actual eyewitnesses,” Hopewell said.
Hopewell revealed that Guzman had rented a room in the victim’s apartment complex earlier this year from the girl’s mother, and lived there about two months, before leaving for an unknown residence. “He (had been) in the apartment with the children … but he was not a babysitter of the children,” Hopewell said.
Diaz said the police are looking for those with information on Guzman and his lates residence to steop forward. “An examination of that location may yield additional evidence,” he said.
Diaz said Guzman was “uncooperative” about revealing his current address when contacted by police on May 9. The department’s investigation revealed that he was living in this country illegally, the police chief said.
After questioning him, authorities said Guzman was taken into custody and held by Immigration and Customs Enforcement for an immigration violation. He was released, however, due to a lack of evidence.
Riverside investigators were told Monday that Guzman’s DNA matched the DNA evidence found on the victim and also at the residence. Hopewell said that two police sergeants, sitting in a squad car near Tyler Street and Magnolia Avenue, spotted Guzman in his truck on Monday and arrested him in a parking lot.
Guzman, who has no known prior criminal history, according to Diaz, is charged with attempted murder, kidnapping with injury and aggravated child sexual assault, each of which has a potential life sentence. He is being held on $1 million bail.
Asked about motive, Hopewell said that revenge was a possibility but didn’t expound on that.
No charges against the mother, who left the children home alone, are being considered, said Hopewell.