Police: Rape suspect arrested 10 years after being charged
GASTONIA, N.C. —
Police said they caught a rape suspect because he was driving with dark, tinted car windows.
After being indicted on rape charges 10 years ago, he was arrested Monday night.
When police pulled over Juan Serrano, they said they discovered he didn't have a valid driver's license. Instead, they said, they found several fake IDs, and learned Serrano had been charged with kidnapping and raping a child 10 years ago, but he vanished before his court date.
Serrano appeared in court Tuesday afternoon to face charges of forgery and possessing fake IDs. But right away, he told the judge that police had the wrong man.
“I don't understand it,” he said. “When they put my name on the paper, they messed it up."
The judge had Serrano escorted back to jail and fingerprinted. Officials said those prints were the same as the man indicted in 2003 for kidnapping a 12-year-old girl and raping her at a Gastonia motel.
When officers stopped Serrano Monday night, they said he had a Social Security card with the name Marc Hernandez, a permanent resident card with the name Dennis Martinez, three debit cards under two different names, and two driver's licenses with two different names.
Eyewitness News went to the Lincolnton address of the home listed on both licenses and showed Serrano's mug shot to neighbors.
“I never seen the guy in this neighborhood,” neighbor Vance Potts said.
Gastonia police believe Serrano was living in the area for the past decade and using the IDs to hide out.
Police said they see a lot of that with suspects who are not from this country, because there are no government records to track them.
“It makes it easier for someone from another country, which this is the case, to be able to hide in plain sight,” said Sgt. Gene Weaver with the Gastonia Police Department.