A 22-year-old Santa Ana man accused of befriending at least 11 young boys and then sexually molesting them was believed to have additional victims and detectives were trying to find them, police said Thursday.
Edwin Echeverria was arrested on suspicion of multiple counts of child molestation early Wednesday, according to a news release from the Santa Ana Police Department.
Eight male victims have been identified, and detectives have identified three more who have not yet been interviewed, according to police. The boys were as young as 10, police said.
“The number of victims involved is this case is extraordinary,” the department's news release stated. “Detectives are not aware of any other Santa Ana cases involving a single suspect targeting such a large number of victims within memory.”
The alleged molestations began in August 2012, with the most recent occurring about two weeks ago, according to police.
Detectives believe Echeverria befriended boys by selling chips and soda from his home at the Warwick Square Apartments in the 700 block of South Lyon Street (maps).
“Over time, Echeverria took advantage of the rapport and trust he had established to convince the children to engage in sexual acts with him,” police said.
A parent of one the alleged victims discovered evidence of an inappropriate relationship and alerted police, who interviewed the boy and later identified Echeverria as their suspect and other children as additional victims.
Echeverria was arrested about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday in the 3500 block of South Harbor Boulevard as he was leaving his job in Costa Mesa. He was due in court Thursday and was being held on $1 million bail, county inmate records showed.
Santa Ana police asked parents of children who may have had contact with Echeverria to talk to their kids about him.
Those who believe there was inappropriate contact with Echeverria were asked to call detectives at 714-245-8542 or Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-847-6227.