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Police hope YouTube can nab suspect

3-23-2007 Ohio:

HAMILTON - Police are using the Internet to try to capture a Mexican national accused of rape in a case that sparked a controversy over illegal immigration.

Alfredo Lopez-Cruz, 27, has been at large since he allegedly snatched a 9-year-old girl off the street June 19, 2005, and sexually assaulted her inside his rented home on Sycamore Street, said Hamilton Police Detective Mark Hayes.

The rape was followed by days of unrest, including the appearance of robed and hooded Ku Klux Klansmen and the torching of the house where Cruz lived.

The rape also ignited a fierce debate that continues over illegal immigrants and what role the Butler County sheriff and other county agencies should play in dealing with them.

Now, nearly two years later, Hamilton police still do not know where Cruz is.

To reignite interest in the case, police plan to create and post a video about it on the popular Web site YouTube.

"This is the first case where we are going to be doing something like this," Hayes said. "We saw something on TV that law enforcement agencies were putting surveillance videos of robberies and stuff like that on YouTube, so we thought we might try something like that with this guy."

Hayes said Cruz is not in the area. "He could be anywhere, so we wanted to get a wider audience," he said. "Hopefully, somebody will view it and know him and know where he's at and we can arrest him."

The video could be complete and posted as early as next week and likely will include some television news footage of the house burning, Hayes said.

Cruz's illegal immigration status adds to the challenge of finding him. He has several aliases, the detective noted.

"It's trying to find a needle in a haystack and you are not sure which haystack to look in," Hayes said. "The problem is, we have solved the case. We know who did it. We just can't find him. It's very easy for him to evade law enforcement. He can hide because he doesn't have an official identification."

The case also has been featured twice on the TV program "America's Most Wanted." Cruz's photo remains posted on that Web site, Hayes said.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police has chosen the Cincinnati Police Department as one of four agencies in the country to help start a nationwide database of crime video clips. ..more.. by JENNIFER BAKER


Entire City On Lookout For Rape Suspect
6-29-2005 Ohio:

HAMILTON, Ohio -- With an entire city now on the lookout for the suspect, the father of a 9-year-old rape victim says he feels better about the police's chances of catching him, News 5's Courtis Fuller reported.

"I'm glad they put the guy's face out. Hanging up fliers everywhere, that gives me a little more hope. Now everyone knows what this guy looks like. Hopefully, he'll get caught. I'm keeping my fingers crossed," the girl's father told News 5.

The girl's father said he believes the suspect, Alfredo Lopez Cruz, is hiding in the area and hasn't left town.

Police hit the streets in several neighborhoods Friday, showing Cruz's photo to residents and tacking it on store walls.

"We have a lot of walk-ins at this store, so it's good they put it up," said store owner Danny Reiter. "They might be able to get some information."

However, the photo is from a previous arrest in Butler County, and Cruz may have altered his appearance, officials said. Witnesses said he had a mohawk haircut and a goatee without a mustache. Cruz is described as 5 feet 7 inches tall and 135 pounds with a tattoo on his inner forearm.

If he has skipped town since the alleged assault on Sunday, Cruz stands a better chance of eluding capture longer. But his mugshot and fingerprints have been entered into a nationwide law enforcement database, so if police stop him for any reason, he'll be detained.

It's not known if Cruz, a Mexican, is an illegal alien, Fuller reported. Even if he is, the FBI said he would face prosecution in Butler County.

Police said Cruz has used several aliases, including:

· Mario Martinez
· Richard Martinez
· Richard Mario Martinez
· Armando Fernandez

Everyone in town is talking about the case. They refer to it as "what happened to the little girl on Sycamore," Fuller reported.

"People are blaming Hispanics rather than the man who did it, so that makes me sad as well, but of course I'm devastated that a little girl was hurt in any way," a woman said.

Police are anxious to find Cruz before vigilantes do. The rape enraged the community, and threats of reprisals turned to violence when someone torched the house where the rape allegedly occurred. Some people broke into a home looking for the suspect, and angry crowds gathered on the street.

Besides looking for Cruz, police are searching for the arsonist, offering a reward of up to $5,000.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Hamilton police Det. Mark Hayes at (513) 868-5811, ext. 1230. ..more.. by

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