Man arrested in decades-old rapes in California, New Mexico

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (AP) — A man has been arrested in two decades-old rapes in California and New Mexico after authorities in Albuquerque were able to test rape kits that had been untested for years.

Van Overton, Jr., was arrested in Albuquerque and extradited to Mountain View on Tuesday in the 2004 sexual assault of a woman at a Mountain View motel, the Mountain View Police Department said.

Detectives in California learned in January that DNA collected during their sexual assault investigation matched DNA from a 1997 rape case in Albuquerque that had recently undergone testing, the department said.

On Feb. 7, Albuquerque police interviewed Overton and obtained DNA samples that were turned over to Mountain View police. Two days later, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Crime Lab confirmed the DNA was a match.

Overton, 45, faces various sexual assault charges in California, including forced oral copulation and burglary with the intention to commit rape. He was arraigned in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Thursday and is being held without bail.

It wasn’t immediately known if he has an attorney who can speak on his behalf.

On Feb. 4, 2004, officers responded to the Lucky U Motel in Mountain View after reports that a woman had been attacked in her motel room in the early morning hours. The victim, a woman who was 42 at the time, told officers the suspect got into her room and sexually assaulted her for nearly half an hour before leaving.

The victim told officers that they could find DNA from the suspect on her hotel pillow and that evidence was collected and submitted for testing.

When the DNA matched a suspect in Albuquerque in January, investigators in both police departments immediately began to work together to identify the suspect, Mountain View police said.

“The teamwork on this case was incredible,” said Capt. Jessica Nowaski, who was the original detective assigned to the case back in 2004. “We never gave up on working to bring justice to the victim.”

According to the results, when comparing the DNA from the New Mexico case and the California case, the probability that the suspect was one in the same was so high, there was only a “1 in 8.2 quadrillion chance” it could potentially be someone else, police said.

New Mexico authorities said he will face charges in the Albuquerque rape on a later date.