SANTA ANA, Calif. – The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is proud to announce it has successfully cleared a 30-year countywide backlog of untested sexual assault kits, resulting in hundreds of new DNA profiles being uploaded to law enforcement databases and criminal charges being filed in six cold cases, including providing justice for a couple kidnapped at gunpoint 28 years ago by a man claiming to be a police officer.
“Every one of these untested sexual assault kits represents a victim who deserves justice,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “I have made testing every single kit that could be tested a priority since I was a member of the Board of Supervisors. I want to thank Supervisor Don Wagner and the entire Board of Supervisors for their continued support in making this project a reality. By clearing the backlog, we fulfilled a promise to every victim of sexual assault that the Orange County District Attorney’s Office will never stop fighting for victims and we will never stop fighting for justice.”
In recent years, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office has been working to address the issues of unsubmitted sexual assault kits from various law enforcement agencies throughout Orange County. Using a $1.86 million grant from the National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (“SAKI”), the District Attorney’s Office created Orange County Sexual Assault Forensic Endeavor “OC SAFE” to inventory thousands of sexual assault kits to identify which kits have yet to be tested.
Out of the 6,480 Orange County sexual assault kits inventoried through the OC SAFE program, 3,791 sexual assault kits were identified as being previously untested. Each of those cases were subsequently reviewed and a total of 1,705 were determined to be eligible to be tested by the Orange County Crime Lab.
Sexual assault kits most likely to lead to a filed criminal case were tested first.
In July 2020, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office received an additional $328,305 in additional grant funding from the California Department of Justice to test previously untested sexual assault kits. In September 2020 OC SAFE began sending sexual assault kits to Bode Technology to alleviate the stress on the Orange County Crime Lab of testing the older cases. Bode completed its final test on Friday.
One of the previously untested sexual assault kits that was identified as a result of the SAKI Grant was sent to the Orange County Crime Lab, resulting in the identification of a man suspected in a 1993 kidnapping, rape and robbery.
On the evening of April 4, 1993, Jane Doe and John Doe went on a date. Following their date, they parked on the street in front of Jane Doe’s home in Stanton and sat in the car talking. In the early morning hours, a man walked up to the vehicle where they were sitting and falsely identified himself as a police officer. He told them he was investigating prostitution in the area. While holding a gun, the man got into John Doe’s vehicle and he told John Doe to drive to a different location of Stanton where he proceeded to order John Doe out of the vehicle and then sexually assaulted Jane Doe.
Following the sexual assault, the Defendant ordered John Doe back into the vehicle and the man proceeded to drive John Doe’s vehicle with Jane and John Doe still in the vehicle for several hours. During this time, the man demanded the wallets of Jane and John Doe, taking their credit cards, cash, and their driver’s licenses. He told the couple he knew their addresses from the licenses, and he would kill them if they reported him. Eventually, he dropped John and Jane Doe off in Cypress on the side of the road and took John Doe’s car. Jane and John Doe flagged down a Cypress patrol officer and reported what had happened. The Orange County Sheriff’s Department investigated this case and Jane Doe was taken for a sexual assault examination.
As part of the Orange County District Attorney’s project “OC SAFE,” the Orange County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the case of Jane and John Doe in 2019. Following that review, OCDA submitted Jane Doe’s sexual assault kit for testing by the Orange County Crime Laboratory. Following that testing, the foreign DNA from Jane Doe’s sexual assault kit was uploaded into a national DNA database. In November of 2019, the OCDA was notified that a DNA comparison had identified a known suspect, Michael Ray Armijo, as the contributor of the foreign DNA from Jane Doe’s sexual assault kit.
Based upon the DNA identification, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office filed criminal charges against Michael Ray Armijo. On February 18. 2021, a jury convicted Armijo of two felony counts of kidnap to commit robbery and enhancements for personal use of a firearm. The rape could not be charged because the statute of limitations had expired, but prosecutors fought for the maximum sentence, arguing the rape was an aggravating factor because it added violence and threat of additional violence prior to the robbery. Armijo was sentenced to the maximum sentence of 24 years to life in state prison.
“I fought to secure money at the County so we could solve these crimes because every kit we test represents a human being who deserves justice,” said Orange County Supervisor Donald P. Wagner. “I want to thank District Attorney Todd Spitzer for coordinating with me in the fight to keep our community safe. When we test a rape kit, we tell every Orange County resident that we will not allow these atrocious crimes to go unchecked.”
For detailed information on sexual assault kit testing eligibility and current OC SAFE data, please visit: https://www.occl.ocgov.com/OCSAFE/.
This project was supported by Grant No. 2016-AK-BX-K003 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.