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Man arrested in alleged Ventura County kidnap attempt linked to previous sex crime by DNA: Officials

A Woodland Hills man already in custody on suspicion of trying to kidnap a teenage girl on a hiking trail earlier this month now faces more charges after DNA linked him to a break-in and sexual assault in Ventura County in 2017, authorities said. Edgar Rodriguez Ruelas, 37, was first arrested March 6, a day […]

A Woodland Hills man already in custody on suspicion of trying to kidnap a teenage girl on a hiking trail earlier this month now faces more charges after DNA linked him to a break-in and sexual assault in Ventura County in 2017, authorities said.

Edgar Rodriguez Ruelas, 37, of Woodland Hills, pictured in a photo released by the Ventura County Sheriff's Office on March 20, 2020.
Edgar Rodriguez Ruelas, 37, of Woodland Hills, pictured in a photo released by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office on March 20, 2020.

Edgar Rodriguez Ruelas, 37, was first arrested March 6, a day after he tried to kidnap a 16-year-old girl on a hiking trail in Oak Park, according to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office. He parked his car and followed the victim up the trail, then grabbed her and tried to abduct her, officials said. The teen escaped unharmed.

Investigators found and arrested Ruelas the following afternoon at Torrey Pines State Preserve in San Diego. He was initially booked on suspicion of attempted kidnapping.

But the investigation continued into Ruelas, “who matched the suspect description in similar previous crimes on hiking trails and residential burglaries where a sexual assault had occurred,” Ventura County sheriff’s Sgt. Dan Hawes said in a written statement.

Following his initial arrest, detectived obtained a warrant to collect a DNA sample from Ruelas.

“On March 16, 2020, detectives received notification from the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Forensic Services Bureau that Ruelas’ DNA matched DNA evidence found at the scene of a Burglary and Sexual Assault that occurred in 2017,” Hawes said.

Based on the new information, prosecutors amended the charges from Ruelas’ March 6 arrest to include false imprisonment and assault with intent to commit a sexual assault, according to sheriff’s officials and Ventura County booking records.

Ruelas’ also now faces charges of forced sexual penetration during the commission of a burglary for the alleged 2017 attack, officials said. That charge alone carries a potential sentence of 25 years to life in state prison.

Bail for Ruelas’ was set at $1 million, records show. He was scheduled to make an appearance in Ventura County Superior Court on March 30.

Investigators continued seeking any other potential victims of Ruelas and asked anyone with information to contact Ventura County sheriff’s Detective Meagan Yates at 805-371-8397.