Daytona Beach Shores, FL
- A Georgia man who does not speak English is locked up at Volusia County Jail after detectives tie him to the rape of a teenage girl at a beachside motel.
The Daytona Beach Shores Department of Public Safety took 23-year-old Nelson J. Hernandez-Garcia
into custody around 1 a.m. Sunday, eight hours after the attack was reported at El Caribe on State Road A1A.
Shores police say the victim is a 14-year-old girl who was raped by Hernandez-Garcia in the motel room she was sharing with her parents.
"The victim reported she was followed by an unknown male into an elevator and onto the fourth floor of the resort, where the suspect forced his way into the victim’s room and sexually battered her," stated a DBSDPS press release. "Video surveillance showed the suspect followed the juvenile victim from the pool area onto the elevator."
Detectives have provided two short video clips from that security tape. Both of them are posted below. (Police say Hernandez-Garcia is the shirtless man wearing red shorts and the female in front of him in both videos is the victim. Her face is blurred out.)
According to the incident report, the victim told police Hernandez-Garcia groped her in the elevator and she managed to run to the room and close the door once the elevator doors opened. It was at that point when she says she heard footsteps outside and opened the door because she thought it might have been her parents, but it was Hernandez-Garcia instead.
At that point, police think Hernandez-Garcia forced his way through the door, took the victim's clothes off and had sex with her before putting his phone number into her cell phone and leaving the room.
When speaking to officers afterward, the victim's parents told them she would not consent to a rape kit due to "past trauma" and was being uncooperative about what happened, but they would let officers take down the number he had put in her cell phone. The report also shows the parents told police they wanted to pursue charges even though they would not make the victim go to the hospital to do the rape kit.
The victim's cell phone received at least three phone calls messages from the number the suspect placed into her phone while police were on scene, per the report.
Detectives were eventually able to contact Hernandez-Garcia through that number and he told them that he was from El Salvador and did not speak English, thus requiring a Spanish-speaking officer to do the interview. Once an officer from Daytona Beach police came to translate, Hernandez-Garcia said that the victim made eye contact and smiled at him while in the pool area, leading him to believe that she liked him and wanted him to follow her.
Most everything else from that point forward was redacted in the arrest report, but it does show Hernandez-Garcia claiming he didn't know her name or that she was 14 until after he left the room and she had texted him saying not to contact her anymore. He also told officers he wanted to get to know her and that he wasn't trying to have sex with her.
Officers collected DNA swabs from Hernandez-Garcia and other evidence from the room before charging him with felony sexual battery on an underage victim. He's currently held on no-bond status at VCJ.