Juan Jimenez and his wife, Nicole, plucked an 11-year-old girl with special needs off an Allapattah sidewalk on her way home from middle school — on the last day before summer break in June — police said.
They took her to an abandoned home in Miami, where Jimenez raped her while his wife stood by, according to investigators, who announced the couple’s arrest on Friday.
“It takes a subservient individual with low self-esteem who is willing to do anything to keep her man around,” Chief Manuel Orosa said of Nicole Jimenez’s alleged role in the attack.
Nicole Jimenez, 26, faces one count of kidnapping, and Juan Jimenez, 38, faces one count each of kidnapping and sexual battery on a minor. The abduction happened near Northwest 15th Street and 50th Avenue on June 6, but police have not located the scene of the assault.
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“A crime against a child is the worst, but a crime against a child with special needs is something that we have to take very seriously,” Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said at a Friday news conference at Miami Police headquarters.
Working on a tip, a U.S. Marshals fugitive squad captured the couple on Tuesday in New Orleans, where Orosa said they were hiding out.
Miami investigators interviewed the couple a few weeks after the attack, but Orosa said there was not enough evidence to charge them at the time. The victim’s descriptions helped police develop sketches that Orosa said were very close to the Jimenezes. When detectives returned to make an arrest, the couple had fled.
Police asked for help finding the house where the assault took place, which the victim told investigators was white with blue trim and “junky” looking. The girl’s attackers returned her to the area near the abduction site about four hours later, and police said she was bruised and scared when she finally got home.
Police also asked for anyone to step forward who may have information about other alleged assaults at the hands of the Jimenezes. Miami-Dade records show that Juan Jimenez has previously been arrested on charges of burglary and aggravated assault; this is Nicole Jimenez’s first arrest.
“We don’t know if there are more children out there that were abused by these two individuals,” Orosa said. “I do not believe that a man and wife all of a sudden decide to go pick up little kids and abuse them. I believe that usually there is… a pattern involved, that it probably happened before.”
The victim’s mother applauded Friday’s news of arrests in her daughter’s case.
“I think that’s wonderful news,” she said to Miami Herald news partner CBS4 News. “We definitely can’t have people like that, you know, preying on our children. … I’m glad they’re bringing them back so they don’t do that in another state.”
The announcement of the arrests comes a day after Sweetwater police discovered an autistic man being kept in “dungeon-like” conditions in his mother’s trailer.