By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
February 15, 2006
Hood River County Sheriff Joe Wampler took to the air in a search plane shortly after a Collins Road woman reported being raped on Tuesday morning.
Within 15 minutes he spotted the victim’s vehicle which had been stolen by her attacker. The SUV was hidden behind a farm shed at an orchard along Imai Road.
Wampler immediately alerted his deputies and Hood River City Police officers who were conducting a ground search. Deputy Mark Smith and Officer Erin Mason raced to the scene — and found a young adult male still sitting behind the wheel.
“We just immediately set up a perimeter to cover all of the escape routes and everyone was in the right place,” said Wampler.
Arrested as a suspect was Ruperto Gonzaga-Gama, 18, also a Collins Road resident. He is accused of breaking into the home of the victim shortly before 9 a.m. and subduing her at knifepoint before restraining her with ropes.
Wampler said the woman managed to get loose within 15 minutes after her attacker left the residence. She called 9-1-1 for help and sent law enforcement authorities racing to the Dee Flat area.
The victim was taken to Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital for treatment. Wampler said she had no visible physical injuries from the knife.
He declined to give further details of the new case. However, he said DNA evidence will be compared with evidence gathered after the Jan. 12 rape of a Markham Road female to see if there is a match. He said it will be more difficult to determine if the suspect was involved in the attempted assault of another woman in the Heights on Jan. 23.
“Right now we’re in evidence gathering mode and we will compare any evidence that we find to other recent crimes,” said Wampler.