An Escondido man admitted to a series of sexual assaults involving children when he appeared in court Friday.
Gilbert Andrew Chavarria pleaded guilty to 13 felony charges including assault with intent to commit lewd acts on children, prosecutors said. There were nine victims ranging in age from teenagers to a 5-year-old child.
Officials say the defendant known as "the Creeper" would cut or remove window screens to get into homes in Escondido and San Marcos during the early morning hours.
Often, the assaults happened while parents slept in the same room as the children, officials said.
Chavarria would apparently cut pieces of their pajamas during the assaults.
On June 23, 2013, a window screen was cut open and a man shined a light onto a 13-year-old's face, then tried to reach inside and touch her.
One week later, police said a man forced entry into a residence in the Oak Hill neighborhood of Escondido and sexually assaulted a 10-year-old girl. He apparently cut holes in the victim's pajamas and underwear.
Investigators said another similar incident took place July 7, 2013, when a man assumed to be "the Creeper" forced his way into a home through another cut screen. He then sexually assaulted a 12-year-old and 15-year-old girl and cut holes into their clothing, police said.
Investigators were able to recover evidence and DNA from a family member that linked all of the crimes to the same individual, pinning down a suspect that lived in the vicinity and had been acting suspiciously.
Officers said when they tried to make contact in August 2013, he fled.
Officials then submitted the DNA evidence to the California Department of Justice for the Familial DNA Testing Process.
On February 5, 2015, the Sheriff's Department and Escondido Police were notified by DOJ officials that Chavarria was their suspect.
Chavarria originally faced 22 counts and a possible sentence of 300 years to life. He will be sentenced to 100 years to life in prison at a hearing on Jan. 4.