"The Roaming Rapist" pulled a young woman off a bicycle, hit her with a rock and attacked her. He jumped out from bushes to sexually assault a 38-year-old woman. He raped two teens in one incident, including a 14-year-old girl who briefly wrestled his gun away.
On Friday, a suspect who authorities say is the serial attacker responsible for sexually assaulting 10 females between 1998 and 2003 was in custody two days after trailing officers grabbed a fast food drink he threw in the trash and had the straw tested for DNA.
"We have the right rapist," Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully said Friday as she announced 35 felony charges against Dereck Jermaine Sanders, declaring DNA evidence had linked the 39-year-old Isleton man to crimes of the attacker whom authorities had labeled the Roaming Rapist.
Women ages 14 to 42 across Sacramento County and the city of Sacramento were victims of the attacks, authorities said.
Authorities say Sanders was implicated in the case through a "familial DNA," which traced family characteristics to a brother, who is a convicted felon and recently had been arrested on three unrelated sexual assaults.
That evidence, matched with a California Department of Justice database, led authorities to Sanders' Isleton residence. Authorities then followed him to a McDonald's restaurant.
And after he drove to a nearby park, ate his meal and threw his bag, napkins, cup and straw into the trash, officers retrieved it for DNA testing.
"I can't really emphasize enough that this was the perfect marriage between technology and modern policing as well as old-fashioned detective work," said Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones.
A woman whom authorities called a "survivor" of the Roaming Rapist watched quietly in the news conference audience with her parents Friday as Sanders' arrest was announced. While the woman declined interviews, Sacramento Police Detective Avis Beery, who had worked on the case from the start, hailed the arrest of a suspect.
"I have told many people that, before I retired, I wanted this case solved," Beery said.
The detective added: "I am thrilled we finally located this individual. I know the victims won't have to look behind their backs and go to bed wondering where he was."
In a summary of victims' interviews, a 14-year-old girl interviewed in 1998 described getting accosted and assaulted along with a 15-year-old friend after sneaking out of their homes to meet friends at a fast food restaurant.
The girl said they were walking along Madison Avenue when a man with a gun came out of the darkness and ordered them to undress.
The girl said that as she was being raped her assailant "put the gun down and I was able to grab the gun but I wasn't holding it like I should have to use it." She said her attacker pulled the weapon back "and told me not to do that again."
In another of the interviews, filed in a "statement of probable cause" by a Sacramento County detective, a rape victim said she was walking home from a party near Arcade Creek in 1998 when "someone came out of the bushes and grabbed me around the neck and started to choke me."
Another 1998 rape victim, 18 at the time, said she was riding a bike through a dirt parking lot near the 4900 block of Roseville Road when a man "grabbed me and threw me to the ground." She said, "He choked me by putting his hands around my neck and he hit me on the head with a rock."
A 2003 victim, whose age wasn't listed, said she stepped into a minivan lined up with other taxis outside the Raven Club in Sacramento after the driver "asked me if I needed a ride." After she instructed him to take her home, the driver headed in another direction and sped up.
"I knew at that point something was wrong," the woman said. "I began to scream and he pulled over and told me to stop screaming. ... He squeezed my neck until I began to black out."
Other victims included a 20-year-old, who was raped after she accepted a man's help after a car accident, and two prostitutes including one who told authorities her assailant claimed to be a police officer.
Sacramento County Detective Bradley Jones described the attacker Friday as "a very violent individual" who inflicted multiple injuries on his rape and sexual assault victims.
Sanders, who was booked into Sacramento County jail on Friday after being arrested without incident at his Isleton residence, has convictions for misdemeanor assault and misdemeanor battery in 1995.
If found guilty on the current charges, he faces the possibility of several life sentences, Scully said.
Sheriff Jones said authorities have no evidence of other sexual assaults involving the Roaming Rapist after 2003, but are notifying other law enforcement agencies to see if there may be cases elsewhere.
"Sexual assailants usually don't stop assaulting people," he said. "There is definitely a lot of investigation and case follow-up that needs to be done. If there are other victims, we certainly want to give them justice as well."