Police: Assault suspect had SMU student’s phone
December 11, 2009
By SCOTT GOLDSTEIN / The Dallas Morning News
One of three men accused of the weekend rape of a Southern Methodist University student apparently used the victim’s cellphone in the hours after the attack, leading investigators tracking its signal to his southern Dallas neighborhood, according to police documents.
When officers arrested Luis Zuniga, 26, on a drug possession charge as he walked along a Buckner Terrace street Saturday, they found the 20-year-old sexual assault victim’s phone in his pocket, the documents said.
Activity on another cellphone, taken during a separate robbery just before the kidnapping, helped lead police to the two other men charged in the case.
“They’re not rocket scientists,” said Dallas police Lt. Richard Dwyer, commander of the unit that investigated the robbery. “They were just out to terrorize people.”
Zuniga, his relative, Alfonso Zuniga, 28, and Arturo Arevalo, also 28, face sexual assault charges in the attack early Saturday morning in Old East Dallas. The kidnapped SMU student-athlete was targeted at random as she walked to a car with a group of friends leaving a party about 2:20 a.m., police said.
Dallas County Jail records indicate all three men are suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.
Arevalo was deported days after being arrested in a 2001 Dallas theft case, WFAA-TV (Channel 8) reported. That deportation is one of many over the last several years in which defendants awaiting trial for violent crimes in Dallas County have been deported and set free in their home countries.
Luis Zuniga was arrested on a burglary charge in Dallas earlier this year, according to records. No criminal record could be found for Alfonso Zuniga, who confessed to both the robbery and the rape, the documents said.
The men were arrested without incident, police said.
Investigators did not rule out the possibility that the men could be tied to other violent crimes. Police documents released Thursday shed more light on the terrifying events of early Saturday morning and the days-long investigation that led to the arrests.
About 2:10 a.m., police believe, the men robbed a 29-year-old man walking in the 5200 block of Alcott Street near North Henderson Avenue. The attackers put a gun to his head and took his wallet and BlackBerry.
Then they hit him in the mouth with the butt of the gun, partially knocking out three of his teeth, the documents said. They fled south on Alcott in a black sport-utility vehicle.
About 10 minutes later, the SMU student was walking to a car with friends after leaving a house party in the 1800 block of North Garrett Avenue near Ross Avenue. Police believe the same SUV approached as the woman was about to get into her friend’s car.
The driver of the SUV said something to her that she did not understand.
As she asked him what he said, another man got out of the vehicle, grabbed the woman from behind and put a gun to her head, the documents said.
They dragged her into the back seat of the vehicle. Her friends tried unsuccessfully to follow and notified police.
The victim told police her attackers pushed her down and told her to be quiet. They drove her to a deserted area, where all three men forced her to have sex with them, the documents said.
They then drove her to the 1300 block of South Haskell Avenue, near Fair Park, where they put duct tape over her eyes, pushed her out of the vehicle and told her to run. Someone notified police, and the woman was located and taken to Parkland Memorial Hospital.
In the next few hours, the Dallas police Fusion Center, the department’s intelligence gathering and analysis unit, tracked the woman’s cellphone to the 7000 block of Red Bud Drive near Jim Miller Road.
Police looking for the suspects initially raided the wrong house. Officers later found and arrested Luis Zuniga. He was charged in the case Thursday.
The Fusion Center also tracked the robbery victim’s cellphone signal to the 2100 block of Highland Road near Ferguson Road in Far East Dallas.
Further investigation identified Alfonso Zuniga and Arevalo as suspects, and the men were arrested Tuesday during a traffic stop in that area.
Charles T. writes (12-13):