HANFORD, CA -- Authorities in California's South Valley have arrested a man accused of beating and raping a 16-year-old girl over the course of five days.
Eddie Perez, 19, of Avenal was taken into custody in Hanford on Saturday night. Hanford police had been searching for him since his battered girlfriend was rescued from his car on Friday.
Witnesses say the victim was found screaming in a car, unable to move from being beaten so badly. She's recovering from surgery and is expected to be OK.
Albert Martinez couldn't be more relieved to hear of the arrest. He was the first to find the 16-year-old victim, who was repeatedly raped and beat with a tire iron. It's an image Martinez says is seared into his memory.
"Her face was really bruised. She was having a very hard time looking at who she was talking to. She couldn't really put a focus on me. Her eyes she couldn't really open," he said.
Martinez lives in the apartment complex where the victim was found captive in a car. The witness says he heard screaming Friday afternoon and ran downstairs to find the girl barely conscious.
"I wasn't sure what the situation was, so I did slowly approach the car. She asked if she could use a phone, so I asked her what the situation was. She was really panicked, and crying and really scared," said Martinez.
Investigators say the victim was reported as a runaway from Avenal two weeks prior to being found. The suspect is her boyfriend, and according to police, it wasn't until five days ago their relationship got physical.
"She was forced to have sex with him. She was bound at the hands. She was forced to stay inside the car and use the restroom inside the car for the last four to five days," said Justin Vallin with the Hanford Police Department.
Investigators were knocking on doors all Saturday, seeing if anyone had seen the Avenal man. They eventually found him on the 400 block of East Cameron Street, just around the corner from where the victim was found.
"You never know what's going to happen. That girl she was a kid herself," said Martinez.
Perez was booked into the Kings County Jail and is now facing a list of charges including false imprisonment, kidnapping, rape and torture.
California man allegedly raped teen over 5 days, beat her with tire iron