An Army veteran was in custody in connection with a series of attacks in Orange County where at least three women were snatched off running trails and sexually assaulted, Orange County authorities said Monday.
Robert Daniel Yucas, a 51-year-old resident of Riverside County, was arrested and charged with three felony counts of kidnapping to commit a sex offense, one felony county of forcible rape, one felony count of attempted forcible rape and three felony counts of assault with intent to commit a sexual offense.
A break in the case came when Yucas was arrested on assault charges in San Diego on Sept. 4, Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes said. A DNA sample collected during the arrest matched evidence in the Orange County attacks.
He posted $30,000 bail and was released, the San Diego County District Attorney's Office said.
The suspect was then arrested in Anchorage, Alaska on Thursday, after a return flight from China, the statement said. He is awaiting extradition back to California, which can take up to 30 days.
According to a statement from the Orange County District Attorney's Office, at least three women have been snatched off running trails in a park in Aliso Viejo, near Pacific Park Drive and Alicia Parkway, between January 2020 and August 2021.
"The three victims in this case were doing things many of us do every day," Barnes said during the press conference. "But the suspect kidnapped these victims, placed them in chokeholds, sexually assaulted them, and changed their lives forever."
Those women were choked unconscious in an attempt to sexually assault them, and one of the women was raped, authorities said.
District Attorney Todd Spitzer described the victims of the crimes as being "indiscriminately snatched," with no relation to each other and no pattern beyond each being attacked in Aliso Viejo.
Yucas is a former military pilot currently working as a cargo pilot with Kalitta Airlines, according to authorities. Due to the nature of his work and the variety of locations he traveled to, the OC Sheriff and DA each expressed concern that the suspect may have assaulted other women outside of Orange County, including San Diego and Riverside counties.
Authorities asked anyone else who may have been attacked or who may have information related to the case to come forward via the Tip Line set up at 714-647-7419.
If convicted, Yucas faces a maximum sentence of 39 years to life, plus six years in state prison if convicted of all charges, Spitzer said.
"Sexual predators do not stop until we stop them," Spitzer said. "The bravery of an anonymous tipster to come forward with information about this predator led to his capture and likely prevented additional women from being sexually assaulted."