19-year-old arrested for kidnapping, sexual assault


Shortly before 12:20 a.m. Thursday, Salinas police responded to a missing person report about a 19-year-old woman who did not come home from work Wednesday evening.

The person who made the missing person report had talked to the victim earlier that evening and although she said she was on her way home, but she never arrived, police said.

An investigation into her disappearance led police to a home in the 700 block of Garner Avenue shortly after 4 a.m. Thursday.

The woman was located in a converted garage that was also occupied by the suspect, Ernesto Cruz, a 19-year-old Salinas man, according to police.

Police rescued the woman through the garage window, then forced entry through the door of the garage and arrested Cruz.

Investigators believe Cruz abducted the victim as she was leaving from work. He forced her to drive her vehicle to the area near Santa Rita Park where he abandoned the vehicle and arranged for someone else to pick them up and drive them to the home on Garner Avenue, police said.

Cruz then forced the victim into the garage, blocked the door with building materials, and then sexually assaulted her, according to police.

After being rescued, the victim was taken to a local hospital to be treated for injuries suffered in the assault.

Cruz was booked into Monterey County jail.

Salinas police are continuing to investigate the incident. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Police Department's investigations division at (831) 758-7226.

People wishing to remain anonymous can call the anonymous tip line at (831) 775-4222 or the We-Tip Line at (800) 78-CRIME, or text information to the Text Tip Line at 847411 with the code "SPD831."

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