Mountain View police have arrested the man they believe is behind last week's attempted sexual assault of a jogger on Stevens Creek Trail, and behind at least two other recent attacks as well.
John Detches, 32, a transient out of San Jose, was arrested at approximately 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, on three counts of assault with intent to commit rape and one count of kidnapping.
His arrest comes a week after 27-year-old Mountain View resident Crystal Stokes was attacked while jogging on the trail near the Dana Street overcrossing. Stokes successfully fought off Detches, who allegedly had grabbed her and attempted to haul her into some bushes off the trail. The attacker in that incident fled on a green bicycle and police were unable to locate him.
Following the Nov. 29 attack, police have been conducting investigations and combing through reports involving Stevens Creek Trail, and found that a Nov. 12 report of suspicious circumstances had several similarities. In that incident, a 24-year-old woman had been grabbed by the shoulders by a man while she was jogging on the trail. Another interview with the victim revealed that the victim had elbowed the man in the stomach, and that he had fled on a bicycle. The physical description of the man matched that of the Nov. 29 attacker.
Meanwhile, another woman in her 20s contacted the Mountain View Police Department to report a similar incident that happened to her on Nov. 25 after seeing media reports of the Nov. 29 attack. She told police that she was grabbed by the arm by a man while jogging on Stevens Creek Trail. When she pulled away and yelled, he fled on a bicycle.
That woman had initially reported the case to Sunnyvale police, and responding officers could not locate the suspect that day. After further review, Mountain View police realized that the assault had actually occurred in Mountain View, and that the description of the attacker matched those from the other cases.
Armed with this information and looking for a single attacker, officers patrolling the trail found a man matching the physical description of the suspect, as well as wearing clothing that matched descriptions given by the victims.
"We've been out on the trail nonstop," said police spokesperson Liz Wylie. "We've had bike patrol officers out there, motorcycle patrol officers out there."
"They pretty much stumbled upon him and he already had a small misdemeanor warrant" out for his arrest, she said. "We kind of used that to get him into the Police Department."
Stokes positively identified Detches from a photo lineup. After taking a statement from the suspect, Wylie said, further evidence "presented itself." She said police now believe the previous two incidences to be attempted assaults, and that there are likely more women who have had run-ins with Detches.
"We're pretty sure there's a bunch of woman out there," she said, adding that police "want to know about all of them to make the case even stronger."
"We're glad he's off the street because we don't know what could've happened next," she added.
Wylie said police are checking with other departments for similar-sounding cases that may not have been reported as attacks. Anyone with information can contact Mountain View police at (650) 903-6344.