A New Mexico man was arrested and extradited to California this week after DNA evidence connected him to a 2004 sexual assault in a Mountain View motel.
The suspect, identified as 45-year-old Van Overton of Albuquerque, New Mexico, was booked into Santa Clara County jail on suspicion of forced oral copulation and burglary with intent to commit rape, according to a statement by the Mountain View Police Department. He is being held without bail.
Police say that on Feb. 4, 2004, a woman staying at the now-redeveloped Lucy U Motel on Fairchild Drive was sleeping in a motel room when Overton allegedly got into the room and sexually assaulted her for close to half an hour before leaving. Though no suspect could be found during a police search at the time, officers collected DNA evidence from a pillow in the room and sent it to a crime lab for testing.
After an extensive delay, investigators got a breakthrough on the cold case: a connection between the DNA collected at the scene and the DNA of a suspect involved in an Albuquerque case from 1997.
An initial lead on a potential suspect in Tucson was ruled out, police said, leading them back to Albuquerque. Officers took a DNA sample from Overton, and the crime lab operated by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office confirmed that it matched with the 2004 evidence.
The original police detective assigned to the case, Capt. Jessica Nowaski, praised the teamwork between the law enforcement agencies for solving the case. The victim stayed in contact with Mountain View police throughout the full 16-year duration of the investigation.
"We never gave up on working to bring justice to the victim," Nowaski said in a statement.
Detectives believe there may be additional victims. Anyone who may have been a victim or knows someone who was a victim is asked to contact Det. Matt Atkins at email@example.com.