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3 arrested for keeping woman captive in home near S.F.

The female victim told police she was kidnapped at gunpoint and sexually abused for weeks before escaping through an open door

By
Doug G. Ware

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Three men were arrested, jailed and charged in Northern California -- after a woman told police she was held captive there for weeks and repeatedly raped, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Wednesday.

The suspects were arrested, the Chronicle said, when they showed up at a sheriff's office in Sonoma County to claim property seized during an earlier search of the home. Officials identified the suspects as Jose Angel Barajas-Mireles, 34, Jaime Gomez Cisneros, 52, and Guillermo Crestino Avina, 34.

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Authorities were first notified of the case last week when the 22-year-old woman escaped from her captors' home and made it to the Petaluma, Calif. Police Department, 15 miles away. She told investigators she had been kidnapped and held against her will, and was repeatedly sexually assaulted for weeks at the Bay Area home.

The victim told officials she first became imprisoned in the home, located on the 3000 block of Stony Point Rd. in Santa Rosa, "since sometime during the holidays," the Chronicle reported. There, she told authorities, she was abused and threatened with harm.

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Barajas-Mireles, who police believe was the ringleader and sexual aggressor, was booked on charges of aggravated rape and related offenses. He has not yet been charged with kidnapping, however, but investigators said he orchestrated the events that led to the woman's captivity. Barajas-Mireles is being held on $6 million bail.

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Officials consider Cisneros and Avina accessories after the fact who prevented the woman from leaving the home. They are each being charged with false imprisonment and held on $11,000 bail.

The woman told authorities she managed to escape on Feb. 18, when her captors left a door to the home open. Sheriff's officials used a SWAT team to serve a search warrant on the home the next day, but did not make any arrests at that time. It was only when the three suspects showed up at the sheriff's office to retrieve personal belongings Wednesday that they were arrested, the Chronicle said.

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KPIX-TV (CBS) in San Francisco reported that the woman told police she was kidnapped at gunpoint and taken to the home. CBS San Francisco's report said detectives acknowledged that the woman displayed injuries consistent with long term captivity and sexual abuse.

"I can't even imagine what it would be like to be captive for a week, but three weeks?" neighbor Jonathan Cohen, who lives near the suspects' home, told CBS San Francisco. "Unbelievable. Unimaginable."

In May 2013, a similar situation made global headlines in Northern Ohio when three women -- one of whom had been missing for a decade -- escaped from their captor's Cleveland area home after being subjected to repeated sex abuse that endured for years. Suspect Ariel Castro was subsequently arrested and charged with nearly 1,000 felony sex offenses stemming from their abuse.

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Convicted and sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years, Castro ultimately hanged himself in his prison cell just four months after he was arrested for the crimes.

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