When you’re arrested or convicted for a felony offense, your DNA profile is collected and placed into a statewide database for use in potential matches of past or future crimes. The California Department of Justice operates the largest working DNA bank in the country. With at least four arrests prior to this year, 22-year-old Daniel Ortega Ornelas Jr. of Vallejo is not surprisingly a “charter member” of the library of genetic identification.
According to records, Ornelas was arrested two years ago, in August 2012 when he was 20 years old, for possession of a controlled substance and resisting arrest. That was followed in December with an arrest for possession of stolen property (worth over $200.00). His most major offenses came in May of 2013. On May 17, he was pulled over by American Canyon police in Napa County, initially for failure to wear a seat belt, but the car proved to be reported stolen out of Vallejo. He was arrested and charged with vehicle theft, burglary, and possession of burglar’s tools, along with possession of a controlled substance and paraphernalia.
Evidence now shows that just days before that arrest he was involved in a home invasion robbery, victimizing an elderly woman.
It was Tuesday, May 14, 2013 when, according to the Sonoma Sheriff’s Office, two men shattered a window and forced entry into an 86-year-old woman’s home in Petaluma at 8:30 in the evening. The men were reported to have entered the home on Stage Gulch Road, in the rural area east of town, and robbed her of cash, credit cards, keys, her purse and wallet, and her phone. Responding patrol deputies arrived after the suspects had left, and processed the crime scene, collecting several pieces of the broken window glass as evidence.
CSI Detectives processed the evidence and found DNA samples, likely from blood, on the broken glass. The samples were sent to the California Department of Justice for analysis.
Meanwhile, later in 2013, Ornelas was arrested once again for possession of stolen property and failure to appear in court for his previous offense. However, most non-violent offenders these days, due to overcrowding and budgetary restrictions, spend more time out of custody than in, on probation, parole, or post-release supervision. Ornelas was out on probation within the year. But by May of 2014, the DOJ completed their analysis of the samples obtained from the broken glass, and found a positive match with Ornelas. A detective from the Sonoma County Violent Crimes Unit requested a warrant for his arrest in the year-old home invasion case. It was granted, with bail set at $250,000. Ornelas, however, remained out on the streets.
Then last week, on Thursday, August 21, a Vallejo Police Officer conducted a traffic stop on a car and, after checking IDs on the occupants, discovered Ornelas was present, and had an active warrant out on him from Sonoma County. He was taken into custody and booked into the Solano County jail. Sonoma was notified, and a detective reported to the Solano jail to interview Ornelas. He reportedly admitted to at least being in the victim’s home during the home invasion robbery.
Daniel Ornelas Jr. was extradited to Sonoma County, where he was booked on three felonies – first degree burglary, robbery, and elder abuse. He was arraigned yesterday, and remains in custody at the Main Adult Detention Facility. The victim has been informed that one of the two men has now been identified and arrested.