Fifteen years after a man kidnapped a 14-year-old boy at gunpoint, blindfolded him and then sexually assaulted him, Los Angeles police arrested a suspect this week after a DNA match cracked the cold case open.
Mirek Paul Voyt, a 54-year-old former grocery store manager, was arrested at his Hollywood home Tuesday and charged in connection with the Northridge assault, LAPD Capt. Billy Hayes said at a news conference Thursday.
The break in the case came last year, Hayes said, when Voyt was convicted of stealing money from the grocery store chain where he worked. Because Voyt was convicted of a felony, his DNA was collected and entered into a statewide database, where it matched DNA evidence from the 2001 assault, Hayes said.
Investigators re-interviewed the victim, ran their case past prosecutors and obtained a warrant for Voyt’s arrest, Hayes said.
“Unfortunately, this has taken 15 years to solve, but at the time of the original assault there wasn’t much more to go on,” Hayes said. “We since, in the course of our investigation, have been able to tie him conclusively to this assault.”
Voyt pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of kidnapping to commit rape and forcible oral copulation, the district attorney’s office said. A judge set his bail at more than $1 million.
The attack occurred the morning of June 22, 2001, when two teenagers were walking near Vanalden Avenue and Chase Street, on their way to school. A man — blonde, in his late 30s, about 5 feet 10 — confronted the boys with a gun, Hayes said. One of the boys was able to run away, Hayes said. The man took the other.
The man then took the boy to a nearby location — investigators now believe it was Voyt’s home — and sexually assaulted him, Hayes said.
After the boy was released, the LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division — an elite unit that typically handles complex or high-profile cases — began investigating the attack. DNA was collected and entered into the statewide system at the time, Hayes said, but didn’t match anything already in the database.
Now, Hayes said, investigators are worried that Voyt might have attacked others during the 15-year gap between the assault and his arrest. Though Hayes said investigators had not tied Voyt to any specific cases, the captain urged anyone who might have information to contact police.
Hayes said Voyt moved throughout the L.A. area over the last 15 years, ultimately landing in Hollywood. He worked at a large grocery chain, though Hayes declined to say which one. Investigators are also interviewing people who know Voyt, Hayes said.
“When you look at a predator of this nature and the violence that occurred in 2001, although he’s remained off the radar in terms of other criminal acts, one would find it hard to believe that this was his only time,” Hayes said.