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Riverside County man is charged in serial rape case after attacks on six women

A district attorney speaks at a lectern with microphones on it
Riverside County Dist. Atty. Mike Hestrin, shown speaking at a 2018 news conference, said his office is filing 14 felony counts in connection with a serial rape case.
(Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

A man in Coachella faces a slew of criminal counts in connection with brutal attacks on six women.

Riverside County Dist. Atty. Mike Hestrin announced Friday that his office was filing 14 felony counts, including four counts of attempted murder, against the man in what authorities say is a serial rape case.

Prosecutors say Jose Manuel Martinez Garcia, 36, carried out the attacks from September 2020 to August 2021.

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“The attacks included three victims being strangled to unconsciousness and two incidents in which the victim was struck by the defendant’s pickup,” prosecutors said. “In one of those, the victim sustained a broken leg. She was left injured in a ditch in Thermal for several days before being found and given medical assistance.”

After a long investigation, investigators from the Indio Police Department and Riverside County Sheriff’s Department identified Garcia as the suspect, prosecutors said. He was arrested Oct. 5 and has been held without bail since.

Charges involving four victims were initially filed, but detectives continued investigating whether Garcia was connected to other crimes, prosecutors said.

On Friday, authorities charged Garcia in connection with crimes involving two further victims, prosecutors said. In addition to the attempted murder counts, Garcia faces charges of forcible rape, kidnapping, attempted kidnapping and other sex-related counts.

If convicted as charged, he faces a possible life sentence. Andy Trautman, Garcia’s defense attorney, said Friday that he had no comment.

Authorities, meanwhile, continue to investigate whether there are any more victims.

Garcia, who is a Mexican national, lived in the Bakersfield area before moving to Coachella.

Because there are multiple victims and he lived outside the Coachella Valley area for a time, prosecutors and law enforcement are asking anyone with information about Garcia, or who may have been a victim of his, to contact senior investigator Claudia Herrera at (760) 863-7809, or at claudiaherrera@rivcoda.org.


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