Kitchen worker arrested in Rittenhouse rape

Posted: June 26, 2014

THREE DAYS after a rapist attacked a young doctor in her Rittenhouse Square apartment, police have charged a kitchen worker from South Philadelphia in the "crime of opportunity" assault.

Milton Mateo Garcia, 28, of 8th Street near Moore, chose his victim, 26, because she was walking alone about 1:15 a.m. Saturday from Ladder 15 tavern, on Sansom Street near 15th, to her apartment on Spruce Street near 19th, police said.

Investigators believe Garcia was the pervert whom another woman, 27, told police she'd seen at 12:30 a.m. at 16th and Pine walking alongside his bike while holding his exposed penis.

Surveillance video showed Garcia securing his bicycle to a tree near the young doctor's home before grabbing her by the neck and forcing her to go to her upstairs apartment, where he allegedly repeatedly sexually assaulted her. He was not armed.

Garcia allegedly stole her keys and smartphone - and that theft helped officers nab him. Investigators used cellphone-tracking technology to pinpoint the stolen gadget's general location of 8th and Morris.

"Good detective work" led investigators to Garcia's house, where officers found the victim's phone - but not him, said Capt. John Darby, commander of the special victims unit.

Instead, they found Garcia and his bike about 8:45 p.m. Monday at Tashan, the Indian restaurant at Broad and Catharine streets where he worked in the kitchen and made deliveries, Darby said. Garcia had his victim's keys in his possession, he added.

During questioning, Garcia made a statement to police, but Darby declined to discuss details.

Police arrested him on charges of rape, kidnapping, robbery, burglary and related offenses.

"For the residents of the Rittenhouse Square area, we have this guy off the street and you can rest easy today. More importantly, this young professional woman and her family can begin to rebuild," Darby said yesterday at a news conference at police headquarters.

Garcia had no prior criminal record in Philadelphia, but investigators will look at other unsolved sexual assaults in Philly to see if he was involved, Darby said.

Garcia is from Honduras and speaks little English, said Lt. Anthony McFadden of the Special Victims Unit.

Darby and McFadden said they didn't know how long he'd been in Philadelphia, nor whether he's here legally. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement division is investigating that, Darby said.

No one answered the door yesterday afternoon at Garcia's rowhouse.

But Ralph Soriano, 45, a union ironworker who lives next door, said his neighbors had "no sense of schedule" and were always in and out of the house late at night, riding their bikes.

During the last few days, Soriano said, his neighbors were "acting strange." They were no longer leaving their bikes chained up outside, and Soriano said he saw a lot of new people coming to the house.

"You never know who you're living next door to. It's crazy," Soriano said. "I have a daughter; I have a fiancee. I don't need that."

Tashan released a statement yesterday saying that Garcia worked there for three months.

"[He] presented all appropriate documents for employment. He was also employed at two other businesses in the city," the statement read. "Other than showing up for assigned shifts and performing his limited duties, with NO CUSTOMER INTERACTION, Garcia gave us no reason to suspect he was involved in any criminal activity."

- Staff writers Morgan Zalot and Dylan Segelbaum

contributed to this report.

On Twitter: @DanaDiFilippo


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