Police nab suspect in Stevens Creek Trail assault


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.


Like this comment
Posted by VJ
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 7, 2009 at 2:22 pm

get a rope

Like this comment
Posted by HW
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 7, 2009 at 2:28 pm

Great job Mountain View Police Department. Thanks!

Like this comment
Posted by sea
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 7, 2009 at 2:53 pm

Thank you Mountain View Police Department!!! Best news I've heard all day.

Like this comment
Posted by LovNLf
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 7, 2009 at 2:58 pm

MVPD, GOOD JOB!! Keep this guy off the streets!!!!

Like this comment
Posted by jane
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 7, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Thank you MVPD for getting this guy off the trail. It is scary to think he may have tried again and succeeded, as it sounds like he was getting bolder. Thanks for bicycle-patrolling the trail and preventing something horrible from happening!

Like this comment
Posted by good neighbor
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 7, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Sure hope the small misdemeanor warrant doesn't get in the way of him being charge for the attacks. Sure would be nice to have live camers on the tails for the public to see, just like traffic cams.

Like this comment
Posted by Bill crawford
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Dec 7, 2009 at 6:38 pm

I'm retired from MVPD now. Great to see that our officers continue to maintain and exceed the excellence that has marked our department for many years.

I know they did alot of of work to pursue and apprehend this bad person and his assaults. Congratulations!

Like this comment
Posted by john
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 7, 2009 at 7:32 pm

Well done MVPD!! Now its his turn to be a victim, by the other cell mates in Jail!!

Like this comment
Posted by tommygee
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 7, 2009 at 9:17 pm

GOOD JOB FROM THE MVPD. That transient needs to be publicly shamed, then hanged without a trial. He must not have any morals at all.

Like this comment
Posted by BD
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Dec 8, 2009 at 7:17 am

Thank you MVPD! Hopefully this suspect goes to court and then jail, and he is kept off the streets. Are there plans to keep patrolling the trail (at a lower frequency) to deter future incidents?

Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of another community
on Dec 8, 2009 at 8:40 am

That guy looks strong. How scary that must have been for the young girl. Good for her for fighting with everything she had.

I am not surprised this has happened because the trail is a very convenient place to commit a crime.

Back when the trail opened I suggested that cameras should be installed on the trail. Apparently that is what needs to be done. Cameras are inexpensive and also can be used as a deterence. I hope the city considers to install cameras, so we are protected from those creeps.

Like this comment
Posted by NW Resident
a resident of North Whisman
on Dec 8, 2009 at 9:37 am

Regarding good neighbor's concern about the misdemeanor warrant, I believe that the assault and kidnapping charges in the attacks are felonies so they should take priority over the warrant. Hopefully that is the case.

I would like to see more regular patrols on the trail when there is police staffing to do so. The use of the bike patrol and motorcycles on the trail is a great idea and I believe that giving officers more contact with trail users would also improve police-community relations.

Like this comment
Posted by Mr. Big
a resident of Rex Manor
on Dec 8, 2009 at 10:06 am

I was on the trail last Friday and saw a bike patrol for the first time with two MVPD officers.

Kudos to them for not "hassling" me as I don't exactly resemble the suspect but I don't exactly not resemble him. I bet if I had a bike with me then it would have been a different story.

I wouldn't mind a few "hidden" camera's so that no one would know exactly where they were, but I would prefer more bike and motorcycle patrols along with some plain clothes foot patrols (if they aren't already happening).

They should also do some additional trimming of vegetation and add more fencing near the trail pathways.

Like this comment
Posted by Liz
a resident of Waverly Park
on Dec 8, 2009 at 2:23 pm

Now that you have caught this guy, don't become lax in your patrols. I have never seen an officer on the trail. When I use it I always go with someone else.

Like this comment
Posted by Annie K
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Dec 8, 2009 at 3:35 pm

And I was on the newly finished trail just once because it did not give me the feeling of safety. Hidden cameras are a great idea. I love to walk but will wait until I know it's safer.

Like this comment
Posted by Special Agent CERT
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 8, 2009 at 3:51 pm

Given the Idea of the "NEW" neighborhood watch program at the OMVNA elections in City Council Chambers.

Lets start "Trail Watch", a lot of folks have cell phones with cameras so just call in your concern with a picture and see what needs to be done to get it started.

Email for more information.

who will look at the camera video? Big Brother is NOT your friend.

Like this comment
Posted by Stop
a resident of Shoreline West
on Dec 8, 2009 at 3:55 pm

Good job MVPD....but can the press girl just give the facts and not add her little comments? "They pretty much stumbled upon him..." Makes the police department look stupid like the extra patrols on the trail weren't planned. Come on....just the facts please.

Like this comment
Posted by Voice For Homeless
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 14, 2009 at 3:37 pm


Like this comment
Posted by Concerned
a resident of another community
on Dec 16, 2009 at 7:33 am

I tend to agree with previous 2 comments. How likely is a transient going to try to commit rape? Thought they were pre-occupied with staying warm and looking for their next meal or high. Did the suspects rights "kind of" get "stumbled" over?

Think this suspect doesn’t make sense. Thinning hair? Scratches on face? No Bike?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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