Serial sexual assaulter sentenced for attacks against sleeping victims and hikers, including minor

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun3,2024

VENTURA COUNTY, Calif. (TCD) — A 42-year-old serial assaulter received the maximum sentence allowed by law for sexually abusing lone female hikers and sleeping victims over the span of several years.

The Ventura County District Attorney’s Office announced Edgar Ruelas was sentenced on June 5 to 32 years to life with an additional 21 years in state prison for sexually assaulting five female victims, including a 16-year-old hiker.

A jury convicted him in May of assault with intent to commit a forcible sex crime on a person under 18, two counts of assault with intent to commit a forcible sex crime, forcible sexual penetration by a foreign object, and assault with intent to commit a forcible sex crime during a residential burglary.

The jury also found Ruelas guilty of special allegations, including commit offense during a residential burglary with intent to commit a forcible sex crime, victim was vulnerable, the manner in which the crime was carried out indicates planning, sophistication, or professionalism, and the defendant has engaged in violent conduct.

According to prosecutors, Ruelas conducted similar attacks on two different women in Thousand Oaks. On June 15, 2017, a 25-year-old woman awoke to Ruelas entering her bedroom, and he “tried to force her onto her bed,” but the woman fought back. The 25-year-old victim yelled to her roommate, and Ruelas fled following a brief struggle.

Similarly, Ruelas entered another woman’s Thousand Oaks apartment in October 2017 while she and her boyfriend were asleep. The district attorney’s office said Ruelas stood above her, put a hand over her mouth, and used his other hand to sexually assault her. The victim was able to call for her boyfriend after Ruelas moved his hand from covering her mouth and the defendant fled. The victim’s boyfriend allegedly ran after Ruelas, and they fought before Ruelas was able to break free and flee.

According to the district attorney’s office, Ruelas sexually assaulted at least three lone female hikers. In each attack, he reportedly wore all black and a face covering, and hid behind bushes before attacking the victims.

Ruelas assaulted a female hiker at Wildwood Regional Park in Thousand Oaks on the morning of July 14, 2017, the district attorney’s office said. He reportedly tackled her to the ground, straddled, and groped her. The victim allegedly warned Ruelas that she had called her spouse and law enforcement, prompting Ruelas to flee. According to prosecutors, surveillance footage revealed Ruelas’ vehicle driving away from the trailhead and around the area. Officials later located the car at Ruelas’ home in Woodland Hills.

Similarly, in April 2019, Ruelas sexually assaulted a female hiker in Oak Park, and she yelled for help as they struggled. The victim told Ruelas that other people knew where she was, and Ruelas fled. The hiker reportedly had a dog walker call law enforcement following the attack.

On March 5, 2020, prosecutors said Ruelas sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl as she was hiking near her home in Oak Park. As Ruelas attacked her, the minor reportedly screamed for help and hit Ruelas with a ukulele. The minor was able to safely escape and had a neighbor help her contact law enforcement. Investigators recovered surveillance footage of Ruelas running toward his vehicle, which had been parked nearby.

According to the district attorney’s office, investigators performed DNA testing and found Ruelas’ DNA on pieces of evidence from the assaults.

In a statement, Senior Deputy District Attorney Brent Nibecker said, “Thanks to the five brave women who faced Ruelas in court, he will hopefully never be free to attack again. While we cannot replace the sense of security he took, I hope this life sentence delivers the justice they so richly deserve.”

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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