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Sheriff: Taxi driver accused of April sex assault linked to 2004 rape case

By Michelle Pulido, Reporter, Michellepulido@kionrightnow.com
Jessica M. Pasko, Digital content director , jessicapasko@kionrightnow.com
Published On: Jul 03 2014 12:23:26 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 03 2014 04:45:07 PM CDT
Cold Case Rape

Santa Cruz Co. Sheriff's deputies say suspect in April sexual assault has been linked to  previously unsolved rape from 2004.

LIVE OAK, Calif. -

Santa Cruz County Sheriff's deputies announced Thursday morning that DNA evidence has linked a 2004 rape to the taxi driver accused of trying to sexually assault a female passenger earlier this year.

Salvador Ceja Rocha, 46, was arrested in April after deputies said he tried to sexually assault a passenger he picked up from the Capitola Village.  At the time, Rocha was a driver for the Village Cab Taxi Service, according to deputies.

Last month, criminalists with the state Department of Justice got a DNA hit linking Rocha to an unsolved rape from July 31, 2004.

In that case, a 19-year-old woman was walking on McGregor Drive near New Brighton Road in Aptos when she was knocked down an embankment by a stranger, who violently sexually assaulted and strangled her. When the suspect finally left, the woman climbed up the embankment and flagged down a passerby, who called 911. A sexual assault exam was performed and DNA was collected, but no match was made for a decade.

In June, almost 10 years to the date, the DOJ got a DNA hit.

In the April 2014 case, Rocha is accused of driving a female passenger to a secluded area of Nisene Marks State Park and trying to sexual assault her. The woman struggled with Rocha and was able to get out of the cab. Rocha drove off and the woman contacted authorities. He was arrested soon after.