A Florida Keys man is in jail on rape and kidnapping charges after police say he picked a woman up from a bus stop on U.S. 1 and held her in his trailer while he repeatedly sexually assaulted her.
Julio Roberto Melendez Chavez, 55, is in county jail on Stock Island on a total bond of $110,000. Monroe County Sheriff’s Office detectives arrested him March 4 on a warrant stemming from the incident almost eight months earlier.
Although investigators said they tied Melendez Chavez to the assault by a DNA match in October, the victim had left the Keys and wasn’t located until last month.
The victim told detectives that on July 23, she was sitting at the 55th Street bus stop around 9 a.m. almost falling asleep, when Melendez Chavez pulled up in his pickup truck and asked her if she wanted to go to his home to get some sleep. She agreed to go, she told police, according to Detective Rosary Ponce’s arrest report.
Melendez Chavez took her to his trailer located behind a house at 1571 Overseas Hwy., where she fell asleep on the couch. The woman told Ponce she woke up about a half an hour later with Melendez Chavez raping her. She told him to stop, but the sexual assault continued when she went to the trailer’s bedroom. This time, Melendez Chavez held her hands down, according to Ponce’s report.
She repeatedly told him “no,” Ponce wrote in her report.
“She finally gave up hoping it would end soon,” Ponce wrote.
After the rape, the woman tried to leave, but she could not figure out the locking mechanism on the door. She said Melendez Chavez followed her everywhere and allowed her to go only as far as the front step outside the door to smoke a cigarette. The woman had also recently broken her leg and needed crutches to get around, but said Melendez Chavez locked them in his truck.
Around 8 p.m. that night, she was able to leave the trailer, but the fence was locked. Melendez Chavez caught her trying to open it and dragged her back inside, according to Ponce’s report. He then raped her several more times, the victim told Ponce.
Finally around 1:30 a.m., while Melendez Chavez slept, the woman was able to squeeze through a gap in the fence and escape the property.
The woman told police she rode a bus to Key West, where she drank at several local bars before a Key West police officer found her, passed out. She told him she had been raped in Marathon, Adam Linhardt, sheriff’s office spokesman, said Tuesday.
Paramedics then took her to the Lower Keys Medical Center.
A sperm sample was collected and sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab. On Oct. 1, the FDLE found the sample matched swabs taken from Melendez Chavez, according to Ponce’s report. The woman also gave police Melendez Chavez’s phone number.
Melendez Chavez has been in jail since November on battery and stalking charges. Detectives wanted to pursue charges against him for the July rape sooner but they could not find the victim until recently, Linhardt said.
Police finally located her on Feb. 6 on Higgs Beach in Key West. She had been in Lake City and then Hollywood, where her phone was stolen, Linhardt said. She told police she wanted to press charges against Melendez Chavez. Detectives obtained the warrant Monday.
Detectives interviewed Melendez Chavez in county jail, where he was awaiting trial for another case, and he denied having sex with the woman. When he was shown a photograph of her, he said the woman pictured appeared to be the same one he picked up from a local convenience store the same night the woman said she was kidnapped and attacked, Ponce wrote in her report.
In November, Melendez Chavez was arrested on charges he stalked a 16-year-old girl in Marathon. After his arrest, a woman who saw his mugshot online reported to police that he followed her in his pickup through the Publix parking lot in Marathon, urging her to get into his vehicle. The woman ran inside the store, where Melendez Chavez followed her, Linhardt said.
Two days before he harassed the teen, cops say he followed a woman in a Home Depot parking lot, also trying to convince her to get into his pickup truck.
Melendez Chavez also has another sexual battery arrest and two arrests for indecent exposure in 2011 and 2013, respectively.