RIVERSIDE (CBSLA) — A landscaper has been arrested on suspicion of the rape and sexual assault of six women, and authorities in Riverside County say he may have more victims.
Jose Manuel Martinez Garcia, 36, was arrested on Oct. 5 and charged Friday with 14 felonies, including forcible rape, attempted murder, kidnapping, and other sex-related counts. Garcia, who was known to drive around in a white Chevy Silverado and a white Dodge Ram, is being held without bail.
“This was a heinous crime, and bad acts,” said Chris Shaefer, assistant chief of the Indio Police Department.
According to the Riverside County District Attorney’s office, Garcia physically or sexually assaulted six women in the Coachella Valley area between September 2020 and August of 2021. The attacks included three women who were strangled to unconsciousness and two who were hit by the suspect’s pickup truck.
In one attack, the victim sustained a broken leg and was left injured in a ditch in Thermal for several days. She was forced to drink water from the ditch until she was found two days later.
According to the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office, Garcia is a Mexican national who was living in Coachella and previously lived in the Bakersfield area. Authorities say Garcia also spent time near Westminster in Orange County.
If convicted as charged, Garcia faces a potential sentence of life in prison.
Several of the victims and the suspect lived outside of the Coachella Valley, so investigators are asking anyone with information about him or may have also been a victim to contact Sr. DA Investigator Claudia Herrera at (760) 863-7809 or via email at [email protected]