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Santa Cruz Police Solve 2008 Kind Grind Rape Case

This is only the second time in the country that familial DNA has been used for a prosecution. It could mean big steps for law enforcement.

After using a new DNA technology that links family members, Santa Cruz police Tuesday announced an arrest in the March 2008 early-morning rape of a 23-year-old employee at the Kind Grind Coffee shop at the Yacht Harbor.

"This incident sent shock waves of fear through all of us and ripped a giant hole in the fabric of our community," said police Chief Kevin Vogel, who described the suspect as a "monster" who changed forever the life of the clerk who opened the store, was attacked, robbed and left in a refrigerator.

Police arrested machine operator Elvis Lorenzo Garcia, 21, at his workplace on the 2200 block of Delaware Avenue Friday at 10:20 p.m., and he was arraigned Tuesday on eight counts of sexual assault and robbery.

Because of the horrendous nature of the crime, Santa Cruz County District Attorney Bob Lee asked for enhanced charges that would turn what was technically one strike, into three, with a maximum sentence of 80 years to life. Garcia is being held in Santa Cruz County Jail on $1 million bail.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris and a host of officials, including Mayor Ryan Coonerty and state crime lab researchers, gathered for a press conference Tuesday at police headquarters to announce the arrest.

Vogel said that the arrest showed that Santa Cruz police honored their commitment to bring this crime to justice. Harris and Vogel said the new technology and the joint work of state and local police agencies showed that law enforcement agencies were making significant progress in solving tough cases.

Police had exhausted all leads in the April case by November 2008, police said. The department requested a familial DNA search, which links close family, such as fathers or siblings.

The search produced a relative of Garcia's, although police wouldn't name the family member. That person was ruled out as a suspect; however, police continued a long surveillance on Garcia and gave items collected from him to the Department of Justice for analysis in February.

The same month, a link was revealed between those items and the Kind Grind suspect's DNA. After more surveillance, police arrested Garcia.

This is the second familial DNA case in the country. The first was the Grim Sleeper case in Los Angeles, which resulted in the arrest of an alleged serial killer in July 2010. Harris said she was looking into why it took two years to have the analysis done. She said her department's crime labs were severely backed up.

—Jennifer Squires contributed to this report

Jennifer Squires March 15, 2011 at 09:15 PM
What great news. This was an attack that really impacted the community. It's good to see progress even though years have passed.
Sarah Zell March 16, 2011 at 03:56 AM
still confused about familial DNA search: it "links close family, such as fathers or siblings" ...of a suspect? is that because the suspect refused to be DNA tested in the first place so they asked his family member? or because the suspect had a family member whose DNA information was already in a police file somewhere which lead the police to Garcia? Had Garcia been a suspect in the first place, or did this come as a surprise? and to be as not-graphic as possible, but clear, we're talking about DNA found on the victim's body, right? yikes. I hope the victim is doing alright and that this can provide another step in her healing from such a frightening crime.
hracing March 16, 2011 at 04:40 AM
Excellent police work. Those detectives are heroes.
Brad Kava (Editor) March 16, 2011 at 03:30 PM
From the close link to the familial DNA they followed the suspect and got exact matches on his own.
Erica March 22, 2011 at 04:23 PM
Wow never in my wildest thoughts did i think he could do somethin like this.. Elvis was my co worker there on Delaware.. He always had up most respect for me And the rest of the female staff. . But DNA doesn't lie. . My prays go out to his family and all who were involved. .

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