A woman who was sexually assaulted and robbed near the Magnificent Mile last weekend managed to memorize much of the license plate number on her attacker’s van, which helped police track down the offender within days, prosecutors said Friday.
And, CWBChicago has learned, the accused man was released early from a downstate prison less than two months ago.
Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy speculated during a bond hearing for Juan Sanchez that the 37-year-old was looking for another woman to attack when Sanchez exposed himself to several female pedestrians while trolling North Side neighborhoods in his minivan this week.
Murphy said a 36-year-old woman was walking to a doctor’s appointment when Sanchez stepped in front of her in the 100 block of East Huron around 7:13 a.m. on the Fourth of July. Sanchez allegedly told the woman he had a gun and demanded her money. After the woman handed over her wallet, Sanchez ordered her into his nearby van, Murphy said. Sanchez drove the van into a nearby alley and then sexually assaulted the woman in the back seat, according to the state’s allegations.
After the attack, Sanchez took the woman’s phone, unlocked the doors, and let the woman go, Murphy said. Surveillance video shows the woman getting out of a white minivan and looking back to get the vehicle’s license plate number.
The victim then borrowed a passerby’s phone to call police, and she provided officers with several digits of the van’s license plate number, according to Murphy. She then went to Northwestern Memorial Hospital to have a sexual assault kit prepared.
Police POD cameras recorded Sanchez’s van in the Streeterville and Mag Mile area around the time of the attack, Murphy said. Investigators used CPD’s license plate reader network to locate Sanchez’s van in the 5200 block of North Lincoln on Wednesday. Officers said they saw Sanchez getting into the vehicle before they arrested him.
The sexual assault victim and three other women who reported lewd behavior by a man in a white minivan on the North Side this week all identified Sanchez in photo line-ups, Murphy said.
According to state records, state officials released Sanchez from prison on May 19 after he served less than two years of a four-year burglary term. But Illinois Department of Corrections records identify Sanchez as “Alvin Lopez-Hernandez.”
Sanchez previously served time for burglary in Ohio and Wisconsin, robbery in Ohio, and possessing a stolen motor vehicle and narcotics in Illinois, Murphy said.
Judge Mary Marubio said Sanchez is “a real and present threat to women” as she ordered him held without bail.
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