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News Release

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Media Relations

Detectives Apprehend Serial Kidnap/Sexual Assault Suspect NR10058rh

***UPDATE***

For almost two years the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has been attempting to capture a serial kidnap/sexual assault suspect who was dubbed the "Spikey Hair Suspect."   The Special Assault Section, Robbery-Homicide Division, has been investigating the sexual assault series involving a suspect who preyed on elementary aged school girls walking alone to local elementary schools.  

Having reviewed countless hours of surveillance videotapes from three of the four incidents, Detectives were able to glean some insight into how the suspect was operating, as well as getting a glimpse of the suspect's image.  Additionally, Detectives sifted through over 1,700 vehicle license plates that matched the suspect's vehicle.  Utilizing data from the Vehicle License Plate Recognition System that is installed on some of LAPD's vehicles, Detectives got a break when one of the specially equipped vehicles made a hit on a vehicle that possibly belonged to the suspect, parked in the 600 block of North Kingsley Drive.

On January 29, 2010, at around 7:45 a.m., while conducting one surveillance in the 600 block of North Kingsley Drive, the Robbery-Homicide Division, Special Assault Section Detectives saw a male Hispanic matching the suspect's description get into a 1995 blue Mazda Millenia and drive it into the subterranean parking structure of a nearby apartment complex.  Undercover Detectives from Gang and Narcotic Division continued surveillance for almost eight hours until the vehicle drove from the location, being driven by the same male Hispanic.

Daniel Merino, 41 years of age, and a resident of Hollywood, was subsequently detained and arrested for California Penal Code Section 209 (b) 1-Kidnap for sexual assault.  In addition to the suspect's vehicle, detectives located other evidence that connected Merino to the crimes. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office filed multiple felony charges ranging from kidnap to lewd acts on a child, against Merino.  

Merino is being held at LAPD Jail Division on $4 million dollars bail. If convicted he faces 25 years to life in prison.

Sexual assault crimes are one of the most unreported crimes. Detectives believe that Merino could be responsible for other similar incidents that may have not been reported, because sexual assault victims are often reluctant to come forward.  Anyone with information about the suspect, additional victims, or witnesses are asked to contact the Robbery Homicide Division, Special Assault Section at 213-486-6910.  During non-business hours, call 1-877-LAPD-24-7.  Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may call Crimestoppers at 800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).  Tipsters may contact Crimestoppers by texting the number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone. All text messages should begin with the letters "LAPD." Tipsters may also go to LAPDOnline.org, click on "webtips" and follow the prompts.

***UPDATE***

December 11, 2009
Detectives have received an outpouring of support to help solve this case from local businesses and community members throughout the city.  This support has allowed detectives to recover additional surveillance video footage that has provided significant leads on the suspect's actions leading up to the crime committed on November 4, 2009. 

The new footage shows the suspect exiting a blue or black 1995 to 1998 four-door Mazda Millenia with a sun or moon roof before walking with the victim.  He is later seen waiting for the victim and then walking with her.  The extended footage later shows the suspect running away northbound on Commonwealth Avenue and westbound on First Street before entering his vehicle.  The suspect drove away from the area eastbound on First Street.     

Los Angeles City Councilman Ed Reyes has offered a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of this suspect, and a private citizen has also offered an additional $25,000.  

Anyone with information about the suspect, additional victims, or witnesses are asked to contact the Robbery-Homicide Division, Special Assaults Section at their new number (213) 486-6910.   After-hours or on weekends, calls may be directed to a 24-hour, toll-free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247).  Callers may also text "CRIMES" with a cell phone or log on to www.lapdonline.org and click on "Web Tips."  When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with "LAPD."  Tipsters may remain anonymous.

Sexual Assault Suspect Lures Young Girls to Apartment Buildings

Los Angeles:  For over one year, a suspect operating in the mid-city area of Los Angeles has been periodically approaching young girls, enticing them into apartment buildings, and sexually assaulting them.

On November 4, 2009, at about 7:20 a.m., a 10-year old girl was walking to school near Beverly Boulevard and Commonwealth Avenue when she was approached by a man who engaged her in friendly conversation.  The man lured her into an apartment complex in the 100 block of South Commonwealth Avenue.  He gained access to the building by waiting for someone to exit the rear stairwell.  When someone exited, he pretended that he had forgotten his key and walked in with the girl.  The man guided the girl up the stairwell to the roof area where he attempted to sexually assault her.  The girl begged the suspect to stop his advances and repeatedly pushed him away.  It is believed that the victim's persistent actions caused the suspect to stop and leave the location.

Images of the suspect on November 4, 2009, were captured on an apartment complex video surveillance system.  The video shows the suspect walking with the victim and then later running alone northbound on Commonwealth Avenue.

On July 10, 2009 at around 7 a.m. a 10-year-old girl was walking in the area of 3rd and Hoover Streets.  The suspect approached her and somehow enticed her into an apartment building in the
300 block of South Hoover Street where he took her to the roof.  Again, something apparently startled him, so he suddenly departed and left the victim behind.

Images of the suspect on July 10, 2009, were captured on an apartment complex's video surveillance system showing him walking and conversing with the victim as they approached the building.  Later, he is also shown running out of the building.  The investigation connected two similar crimes that occurred last year.

On April 30, 2008, at around 7:30 a.m., an 8-year-old girl was walking in the 600 block of South Burlington Avenue in Los Angeles when the suspect approached her and led her into an adjacent apartment building where he attempted to sexually assault her in a secluded area of the property.  Again images of the suspect were captured by a nearby video camera showing the suspect walking and conversing with the victim as they approached the apartment complex.

On February 29, 2008, at about 7 a.m., a 9-year-old girl was walking in the area of James M. Wood Boulevard and Hoover Street in Los Angeles when the suspect approached her on foot, conversed with her and eventually pulled her into an apartment building in the 2700 block of James M. Wood Boulevard.  He then attempted to sexually assault her.

The suspect is described as a 25- to 45-year-old male Hispanic with black hair, brown eyes, 5 feet 6 inches to 5 feet 9 inches tall, and weighing between 150 and 170 pounds.

Parents are reminded to discuss safety issues with their children, especially in reference to not talking with people they don't know.  Parents are also encouraged to accompany their children to school or arrange for them to walk in groups.  Community members are reminded to use caution when allowing persons in their apartment building that they do not recognize or that do not have keys, especially males being accompanied by elementary aged children.

Detectives are asking for the public's help.  Anyone with information about the suspect, additional victims, or witnesses are asked to contact the Robbery-Homicide Division, Special Assaults Section at (213) 486-6910  After-hours or on weekends, calls may be directed to a 24-hour, toll-free number at 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (527-3247).  Callers may also text "CRIMES" with a cell phone or log on to www.lapdonline.org and click on "Web Tips."  When using a cell phone, all messages should begin with "LAPD."  Tipsters may remain anonymous.

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