WATSONVILLE—The Watsonville Police Department has finally put “The Groper” behind bars. They have arrested 28-year-old Watsonville resident Jose Navarro after a 3-year investigation.
Since the end of 2009, Watsonville Police have been investigation this case where the serial sexual assaults suspect grabbed young women from behind. Police were unable to generate any leads until 2010 when police released sketch developed by his victim.
“We have over 20 cases where the lone suspect approached predominantly young females from behind and grabbed their buttocks while simultaneously grabbing them in the groin area,” Watsonville Police Sergeant Saul Gonzalez said. “Many of the victims were under the age of 18-years-old.”
When police released the sketch it generated numerous crime-tips from the community. Watsonville Police Detective sifted through hundreds of investigative leads. A crime analyst was used to develop patterns as to predict where “The Groper” would strike next.
Police sent undercover female officers as decoys into the areas in where he selected his victims but no incidences were reported. Even though there were undercover police and public service announcements advising women about him, “The Groper” continued to terrorized the community of Watsonville.
It was not until October of this year, that police received their biggest clue in solving this case. He struck again outside the La Princesa Market in Watsonville only this time the incident was captured on tape.
“Our detectives worked feverishly to contact past victims in hopes that they can identify the suspect in the tape,” Sergeant Gonzalez added. “Several of his victims were able to identify him so we got an arrest warrant.”
Police identified 28-year-old Watsonville resident Jose Navarro as “The Groper”. On December 19, police went to Navarro’s place of employment in the city of Marina to interview him.
During the interview Navarro implicated himself in several other sexual assaults where past victims were not located or were not able to identify him from photo-lineups. Detectives also searched his place of residence on Browns Valley Road in Watsonville where they located evidence associated with past sexual assaults.
Navarro was arrested and was booked in the Santa Cruz County Jail. His bail has been set at $155,000. Anyone with information regarding this case is strongly encouraged by the Watsonville Police to call the Crime Tip line at 1-831-728-3544
KSBW: ‘The Groper’ Arrested After 3-Year Spree
Santa Cruz Sentinel: Watsonville Police Arrest Suspect in ‘The Groper’ Case