Friday, August 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Man arrested in Rittenhouse Square rape

A man is being charged with forcing a woman into her Rittenhouse Square home and sexually assaulting her over the weekend.

Milton Garcia, 28, was arrested overnight, according to the Philadelphia police Special Victims Unit. He was in police custody early this morning.

"For the residents of the Rittenhouse Square area, we have this guy off the street," Capt. John Darby said.

The 26-year-old victim was returning to her home on the 1900 block of Spruce Street at about 1:20 a.m. Saturday when a man who had been riding a bicycle approached her from behind. The woman had been walking home from Ladder 15, a bar near 15th and Sansom streets, and the assailant may have been following the victim, police said.

The man then accosted the woman, forcing her into the building and into her upstairs apartment, where he sexually assaulted her. He also took her cellphone and keys, officials said.

The victim's iPhone led investigators to a South Philadelphia neighborhood on Saturday, Darby said. The detectives used "good investigative work" to develop additional information from the area, and officers executed a search warrant at a residence near 8th and Moore streets on Monday.

Investigators had also released composite sketches of the suspect on Monday. In the evening, investigators were questioning several men from the 8th Street residence in relation to the assault. 

Those three men were later released, police said, and a fourth man who lived there -- Garcia -- was taken into custody at a Broad Street restaurant where he worked.

Police said the victim's phone, keys and the offender's bicycle seen in surveillance video were all recovered, and Garcia had spoken with investigators.

"We have a statement from the offender," Darby said but declined to give specifics.

Garcia has no prior criminal history in Philadelphia, Darby said. Police are working with the Department of Homeland Security to determine if he is in the country legally.

He is facing charges that include rape, robbery, burglary, kidnapping and other offenses.

Darby said the suspect "followed this female for some distance" but it wasn't immediately known whether the victim was specifically targeted.

"This appears to have been a crime of opportunity," as the assailant "saw a woman on the highway alone," he said.

Garcia worked at several restaurants in Center City and South Philadelphia, police said.

Women who live in the neighborhood have said they were startled by news of the attack and had considered the area safe.


Contact Emily Babay at 215-854-2153 or ebabay@philly.com. Follow @emilybabay on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443 or BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

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