Los Angeles: Robbery-Homicide Division’s Rape Special Section Detectives investigated a series of sexual assaults that occurred in and near the Los Angeles Riverbed. The assaults occurred between March 2000 and October 2003. The suspect identified was 36-year-old Arnulfo Vargas.
Vargas targeted women waiting at bus stops or walking alone. He approached them in his vehicle and offered them a ride. Once inside his vehicle, Vargas would drive his victims to another location and assault them. In one incident, Vargas forced a victim into his vehicle and drove her to a desolated area near the LA River where he sexually assaulted her. Vargas drove away from the location leaving the victim naked and alone. During these attacks, Vargas was armed with a screwdriver or a knife. The case became known as the Riverbed Rapist and was featured on the television series America’s Most Wanted.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed the case charging 16 counts of sexual assault and kidnap. An eight million dollar felony arrest warrant was issued for Vargas.
Vargas abandoned his job and fled his home to avoid apprehension. For the past year Vargas was believed to be living with his family in Mexico.
The LAPD worked with U.S. Federal agents and Mexican police to locate Vargas in Mexico. On November 17, 2005, Vargas was located and taken into police custody in Ensenada, B.C. Mexico.
Vargas was turned over to the custody of the U.S. Marshals. Robbery-Homicide Division detectives took custody of Vargas from U. S. Border Patrol agents at the San Ysidro port of entry and brought him back to Los Angeles.
He was booked for the outstanding warrant at Parker Center Jail.
Anyone with information can call Robbery-Homicide Detectives at 213-485-2511. On weekends or during off-hours, contact the toll free 24-hour number at 1-877-LAWFULL (1-877-529-3855).