Key witness to Richmond gang rape goes missing

Salvador Rodriguez says he was the only one who tried to help the girl being raped.
December 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A key witness to the gang rape of a 16-year-old Richmond High School student has suddenly gone missing. Salvador Rodriguez was originally a suspect, but now police want him on the witness stand.

Richmond police are calling this a "missing persons case." It has been three weeks since anyone has seen or heard from Rodriguez and his family says it is very unsual for this amount of time to pass without him contacting them. It is not just his family worrying about his whereabouts. The police also have their concerns.

"We are concerned for his safety because he was a witness in this case," Sgt. Bisa French said Tuesday. "Family members don't know where he is and he has stayed at various locations in the past, but he's always kept in contact with his family."

21-year-old Rodriguez sought out ABC7 in November to tell his story. He said he was skateboarding outside the high school the night of the dance. He said he saw some friends, went over to a poorly-lit section of campus where a group had formed, and witnessed the attack.

He says he tried to help the victim whom police say was raped by six young men while dozens more stood by and watched. Authorities say they cannot verify Rodriguez's claim that he helped the girl. He said the night ruined his life.

"I was scared. People say why didn't I call the cops but at the same time. I live in Richmond," he told ABC7 in November. "A neighborhood like this, snitching is something you don't do, you know? I mean, I have to walk down the streets now in fear of my life."

According to a missing person's report, Rodriguez's family believes one of the suspects in custody ordered someone to go after Rodriguez in retaliation for cooperating with the investigation. His sister is now scared for her own safety. She says Rodriguez was asked to testify, but that he is reluctant to take the stand.

"Once that goes around that he's a snitch, people get mad and then just try to do stupid things," she told ABC7.

She fears the worst.

"We get scared," she said trembling. "We called everybody he was with. Nobody's seen him. So..."

Rodriquez is known to be a drifter. At the time of his November interview with ABC7, he was living on various friends' couches. As more time passes his family's concern grows, but they hope this is still the case and that he is staying with friends.

Anyone who knows the whereabouts of Salvador Rodriguez is asked to contact the Richmond Police Department.


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