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11-year-old girl's kidnapping and rape solved by DNA from a discarded water bottle, police say

The kidnapping and rape of an 11-year-old girl who was abducted as she walked home in Santa Ana in 1999 has been solved thanks to DNA evidence, police say.

Earlier this year, cold-case detectives submitted DNA samples that were collected during the initial investigation to the Orange County Crime Lab in hopes of finding matches.

One of the samples matched DNA from Ismael Salgado, 36, a former Santa Ana resident who had recently moved to Chicago, police said in a statement. The second DNA sample didn’t have a match in the county’s criminal database.

But after searching Salgado’s background, authorities began tracking Jose Plascencia, 36, an associate of Salgado’s who once lived in Santa Ana but had since moved to a Phoenix suburb in Arizona, police said.

When Arizona investigators following Plascencia saw him throw away a plastic water bottle he had been drinking from, they retrieved the bottle and submitted it for DNA analysis, police said.

The sample came back as a match for the second sample collected in the girl’s assault, police said. Both Salgado and Plascencia were arrested on suspicion of kidnapping to commit a sex offense and forcible rape and are being held on $1-million bail each.

Detectives allegethat on Feb. 3, 1999, the men drove alongside the 11-year-old victim and her friend near Jerome Park and pulled the girls into their car. Though the friend managed to escape, the men held the 11-year-old while they went to a gas station to refuel their van, police said.

Security video from the station shows one suspect filling up the van as the other man covered the girl’s mouth with his hand, police said. The girl said the men then drove to a park and raped her, then drove to a second park and did it again, police said.

Salgado and Plascencia eventually released the girl, who reported the attack, police said in a statement. Authorities said they had little information to go on about the assailants until they matched the DNA samples.

Joseph.serna@latimes.com

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna on Twitter.

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