Orlando Vilchez Lazo, 37, in his booking photo. Mr. Vilchez Lazo, who the police say preyed on women by posing as a ride-share driver in San Francisco, was arrested last week.
A man disguised as a ride-share company driver would access outside a bar in San Francisco, approaching a lady who were seeking her ride. The car could have ride-share tags onto it. But when the girl got in, the driver would not take her home. Instead, he would take her elsewhere and violently rape her.
It happened first in 2013. Police had the ability to obtain forensic evidence from the sexual assault, the suspect’s DNA, and promptly entered it in to the FBI’s national database referred to as CODIS. But there is no match.
So instead the DNA evidence just sat there, and 5yrs went by. This year the rapes started happening again, around Valentine’s Day.
The San Francisco Police Department received reports from three women between February and June which a man posing being a ride-share driver picked them up outside a bar, drove these to an undisclosed location then assaulted them and raped them.
By the 3rd report, San Francisco police developed a task force and gave the suspect a reputation: the “Rideshare Rapist.”
On Friday, police announced at the news conference that they finally arrested the suspect and charged him regarding the four assaults.
Orlando Vilchez Lazo, 37, was faced with multiple counts of rape by force or violence and rape by use of drugs; kidnapping; sexual penetration by foreign object; false imprisonment; and assault which has a deadly weapon sufficient reason for intent to commit rape, among other charges.
Commander Greg McEachern, who heads the police department’s investigations bureau, declared that Vilchez Lazo is “for sure” accountable for these four rapes as a result of DNA evidence linking him in their mind.
It was not immediately clear whether Vilchez Lazo had a lawyer. He has not filed a plea.
“These assaults are not date rapes. These just weren’t acquaintance rapes,” he was quoted saying. “These assaults were violent rapes committed with a serial rapist, a sexually deviant predator who was not planning to stop until he was caught.”
McEachern paused, choking up.
“I’m sorry that I got emotional,” he continued, “but this is the exact thing that fears can happen within this city. The unbelievable diligent work of our own officers and everyone the truth is here standing before me is what allowed us to consider this predator from the street, hopefully for a long period.”
The case unfolded just like Uber and Lyft faced scrutiny from lawmakers after CNN estimated in April that 103 Uber and 18 Lyft drivers was accused of sexual assault before four years. McEachern said weed been working closely with ride-share companies (that they didn’t name) to try and see whether Vilchez Lazo ever worked like a registered driver. He didn’t have an arrest record in San Francisco, McEachern said.
In all four rape cases reported to law enforcement, DNA evidence collected through the sexual assault always pointed to the same suspect, McEachern said, but no match ever emerged within the CODIS system. When police officers department started its task force after the 3rd rape in May, investigators chased leads as far south as San Jose and as far east as Stockton, Calif. They came up empty-handed.
Then came the fourth rape, in June.
McEachern said the break in the case came July 7. Both plainclothes and uniformed officers have been conducting undercover operations in areas in San Francisco where ride-share drivers, such as those working for Lyft or Uber, frequently pick-up riders. They were trying to find “activity of an individual that continuously are visible” and check suspicious. Vilchez Lazo was one person, McEachern said.
McEachern said Vilchez Lazo’s “behavior and M.O. matched the description through the four previous sexual assaults” but failed to offer more specific details. Officers thought we would follow Vilchez Lazo and create a traffic stop. They been able to obtain his DNA in the stop through undisclosed means. Then, the next day, police ran his DNA with the crime lab.
Finally, that they found a match, i was told that.
McEachern said he thinks more victims might be available.
“The actions of someone similar to this who’s committed four rapes in five years, that’s quite a long time between 2013 and 2018,” McEachern said. “It’s tough to believe he wasn’t committing sexual assaults someplace else. And we believe if victims come forward we would manage to tie those cases together.”
Vilchez Lazo happens to be being held on $4.23 million bond inside San Francisco County Jail.