DNA Match Leads to Arrest of Suspect in 2013 Abduction, Rape of Santa Paula Woman

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Leroy Chad Tracy, 38, is seen in a booking photo released April 17, 2019, by the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.
Leroy Chad Tracy, 38, is seen in a booking photo released April 17, 2019, by the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department.

A suspect is in custody six years after a woman was abducted from the street and raped in an orchard outside Santa Paula, investigators said Wednesday.

Leroy Chad Tracy, 38, of Santa Paula, was identified as the perpetrator after his DNA was put into a crime database following his arrest in an unrelated incident, Ventura County sheriff’s officials said in a news release.

The sex assault he’s accused of occurred in May 2013, when a woman walking in the 15000 block of Santa Paula Street — an unincorporated area west of city limits — was grabbed by a man armed with a knife, authorities said.

Tracy allegedly forced the woman into an orchard and raped her. During he sex assault, he also lodged threats that made the victim fear for her life, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

He fled from the scene after the attack, and despite searching the area extensively deputies were unable to find a suspect that day, officials said.

As part of the investigation, DNA evidence was collected, forensically analyzed and entered into the federal Combined DNA Index System, known as CODIS.

The national crime suspect database had no match at the time, and detectives were unable to generate any leads despite further investigation.

But last year, authorities were notified Tracy’s DNA had been separately collected and generated a match in CODIS to the sex assault perpetrator’s DNA.

Additional evidence linking Tracy to the crime was uncovered after he was identified as the suspect, deputies said.

Detectives located Tracy in Fillmore, on the 700 block of Sespe Avenue, around 8:10 a.m. Wednesday and arrested him.

He was booked on suspicion of forcible rape, sexual battery by restraint, anal and genital penetration by foreign object and kidnapping for robbery, inmate records show.

The booking records also show Tracy works as a roofer.

The suspect’s bail is set at $1 million and he is scheduled to appear in court Friday, April 19, authorities said.

Anyone with information about the assault or other incident possibly involving Tracy can contact Detective Cameron Henderson at 805-384-4722 or cameron.henderson@ventura.org.

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