News Details

Suspect arrested in sexual assault cold case investigation

After more than 15 years, a man has been arrested in connection with a 2004 sexual assault case at a Mountain View hotel.

Van Overton, Jr., a 45-year-old Albuquerque, New Mexico resident, was extradited back to California and booked on Feb. 11 into the Santa Clara County Jail. His arrest came after Mountain View detectives learned in late January 2020 that DNA from a 1997 case out of Albuquerque matched DNA that had been recovered during an investigation involving the sexual assault of a woman at the former Lucky U Motel in February 2004.

On February 4, 2004, officers responded to the motel, located on the 100 block of Fairchild Drive, for reports that a woman had been attacked in her motel room in the early morning hours. The victim, a woman who was 42 years old at the time, told officers in a harrowing interview how the suspect had somehow gotten into her room and had proceeded to sexually assault her for nearly half an hour before leaving.

Despite extensive searches of the surrounding area at the time, no suspect was found.

But, during the initial investigation, the victim told officers that they could find DNA from the suspect on her hotel pillow. That evidence was collected and submitted for testing immediately. 

Over the course of the next 16 years, our investigation teams stayed in contact with the victim, vowing to never stop looking for the suspect. DNA was submitted over the years for additional testing, and, when there was a match to an unknown suspect in our case as well as in a case out of Albuquerque in late January 2020, investigators with both the Mountain View Police Department and Albuquerque Police Department immediately began to work together to identify the suspect. 

According to the results, when comparing the DNA from the New Mexico case and the Mountain View case, the probability that the suspect was one in the same was so high, there was only a “1 in 8.2 quadrillion chance” it could potentially be someone else. 

Initially, our investigation took us to a potential suspect in Tucson, Arizona. When that was definitively ruled out, however, investigators with the Tuscon Police Department assisted our team with additional follow-up, leading us back to Albuquerque where Overton resided.

On Friday, Feb. 7, Albuquerque police obtained a DNA sample from Overton, which was handed over to Mountain View officers. The following day, crime analysts with the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Crime Lab rushed the samples back to their lab for further testing.

On Feb. 9, 2020, the District Attorney’s Crime Lab confirmed the evidence was a match.

“The teamwork on this case was incredible,” said Captain Jessica Nowaski, who was the original detective assigned to the case back in 2004. “We never gave up on working to bring justice to the victim.”

We want to extend our gratitude both to the Albuquerque Police Department, and to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office and their Crime Lab for their incredible teamwork, their constant communication with our investigators, and for working with us to quickly bring this case to a resolution. We also want to thank the Tucson Police Department, who helped us in critical junctures of our follow-up investigation that ultimately helped lead us to the suspect in Albuquerque. 

Van Overton, Jr. was arrested on various sexual assault charges, including forced oral copulation and burglary with the intention to commit rape. He was arraigned in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Feb. 13. He is being held without bail.

Detectives are concerned there may be additional victims in this case. Anyone who may be a victim, or anyone who may know a victim, can reach out to Detective Matt Atkins at matthew.atkins@mountainview.gov.

Media inquiries can be sent to PIO Katie Nelson at policepio@mountainview.gov. Inquiries about the New Mexico cold case can be directed to PIO Gilbert Gallegos at 505-377-6952.

 

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