Arrest made in serial "robber-rapist" investigation | News
Police arrested 22-year-old Kearns resident Jose Helaman Pragana Wednesday and charged him with 19 separate incidents in a serial rape and robbery investigation.
Police say that 13 of those 19 crimes took place in Taylorsville and go back as far as April.
Police say they were watching Pragana Tuesday night in a undisclosed location in North Salt Lake. They say the suspect tried to run when Taylorsville Police confronted him. Police say they received information about Pragana in recent weeks that helped locate him.
Unified Police Department says that the suspect made statements that led them to believe he is the man who has been robbing women at ATMs and then raping them.
Unified and Taylorsville police believe that Pragana is the same suspect in incidents that occurred in separate jurisdictions. They say that the suspect fits the description and manner described by the victims. They say the suspect allegedly went up to women near ATMs with a ski mask, robbed them at gunpoint and kidnapped them to an undisclosed location where he sexually assaulted them.
Unified Police Chief Jim Winder says there was a turn in the case when in August the suspect was seen on surveillance video at a Holladay Smith's grocery store. There the suspect kidnapped a woman, robbed her and sexually assaulted her (back-story click here.)
Police say that they received help from witnesses and other people connected to the case that led to Pragana Tuesday night.
"He has certainly given us information to lead us to believe he is the person that has committed the crimes," says Taylorsville Police Chief Chief Del Craig.
Police say they have physical evidence that link Pragana to the crimes, including DNA that the crime lab is working with.
Chief Winder says that, with the alleged 19 separate incidents, there are most likely other victims out there. He asks that those victims contact law enforcement.
Winder has responded to criticism about how UPD and local law enforcement agencies handled the investigation and that better communication could have brought an arrest sooner. Winder says it is an example of why there should be a central database where local police agencies can share case information between each other.
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