NBC10.com - Denise Nakano
Local women gathered Wednesday night to learn how to protect themselves from predators.
Police are investigating whether the Rittenhouse rape suspect exposed himself to another woman an hour before he allegedly raped a young doctor inside her apartment.
A 27-year-old woman told police that she spotted a man on a bike on Friday around 11 p.m. who matched the description of 28-year-old Milton Mateo Garcia. The woman says the man then exposed himself to her.
According to the woman, the incident took place only five blocks away from where police say Garcia repeatedly victimized a young doctor.
Police say Garcia followed the 26-year-old doctor as she walked home around midnight Saturday from a local bar where she had been drinking with friends. Surveillance video from the 1900 block of Spruce Street shows the suspect biking up to a tree, tying up a bike and then walking up to the victim from behind and grabbing her.
"This appears to have been a crime of opportunity," Philadelphia Police Captain John Darby said. "We believed that this male followed this woman for some distance and then positioned himself at a point where he could intercept her path."
Garcia walked the woman into her apartment building and forced himself into her home, investigators said. There, police say, she was repeatedly raped. Garcia stole the woman's smartphone and keys before leaving the apartment and cycling away, according to police.
Detectives were able to track the victim's phone to the suspect's South Philadelphia neighborhood, but not to his house on the 1800 block of South 8th Street, Darby said. But by Saturday afternoon, after "good old detective work" Darby said investigators began watching the house. They gathered enough probable cause to obtain a search warrant on Monday. Among the evidence seized, were two bicycles and the victim's smartphone. The phone was found in a second-floor bedroom, detectives said.
Garcia wasn't home at the time of the raid, but police say they found him working at an Indian restaurant at Broad and Christian Streets -- just a few blocks southeast from the attack scene. It's one of three jobs he had in Center City and South Philly. Detectives said he was carrying the victim's keys.
Garcia was taken into custody on Monday along with three of his roommates. After hours of questioning, Garcia made a statement, was arrested and charged with Rape, Robbery, Aggravated Assault, Kidnapping and related offenses. The other men were released. Darby would not elaborate about what the man said in his statement to detectives.
"We have this guy off the street and you can rest easy today. More importantly, this young professional woman and her family can begin to rebuild," Darby said during a news conference.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division is assisting in the investigation as Garcia is a Honduran citizen, Darby said.
ICE told NBC10 they lodged a detainer against Garcia with the Philadelphia Police. Garcia was previously removed from the United State in June of 2013, according to ICE.
"By issuing a detainer, ICE requests that a law enforcement agency notify ICE before releasing an individual in order to allow ICE to assume custody," wrote Harold Ort, the Public Affairs Officer for ICE, in a released statement.
Garcia was arraigned without bail around 5 p.m. on Monday.
Police continue to investigate whether Garcia was also the man who flashed the 27-year-old woman and whether he was involved in any other unsolved sexual assaults in the city.