FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, January 8, 2013
For Information Contact:
District Man Convicted of Sexually Assaulting Three Women
Who Thought He Was a Taxicab Driver
-Defendant Trapped Victims in His Fake Cab, Drove Them to Secluded Areas-
WASHINGTON – A man who targeted his victims by pretending to be a taxicab driver has been found guilty by a jury of carrying out a series of sexual assaults against women who got into his vehicle as passengers, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced today.
Emero Tornero, 32, of Washington, D.C., was found guilty on Jan. 7, 2013 of 16 charges after a trial in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The charges included multiple counts of kidnapping and sexual abuse with aggravating circumstances, as well as related firearms offenses. The Honorable Ronna L. Beck scheduled sentencing for March 13, 2013. For his crimes, Tornero faces a potential sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of release.
According to the government’s evidence, Tornero, pretending to be a taxicab driver, picked up women who hailed his “taxicab” in a series of incidents from 2005 to 2008. He trapped them inside the vehicle, which was rigged so the back doors and windows would not open from the inside. Then he took the victims to secluded locations, where he raped them.
The first attack took place at about 11:30 a.m. on May 10, 2005. The victim, 23, was with her three-year-old daughter, heading to a relative’s house, when she hailed the defendant’s taxicab at 9th and N Streets NW. Tornero abducted and took the victim to a secluded area. He threw the child to the front seat and sexually assaulted the victim in the back seat.
The second incident took place at approximately 5:30 a.m. on Jan. 7, 2006. The victim, 25, hailed a taxicab driven by the defendant near 8100 New Hampshire Avenue in Montgomery County, Md., so that she would not be late to work. Tornero instead took her to a deserted parking lot in the District of Columbia, where he raped her at gun and knife point.
The third attack occurred at about 2 a.m. on Nov. 29, 2008. The victim, 29, came into the District of Columbia to have a girls’ night out with her sister. The victim became extremely intoxicated inside a nightclub in the downtown area. After leaving the club, she was separated from her sister. Still very intoxicated, the victim got into Tornero’s taxicab alone, with the intention of going home. The victim passed out during the ride and the defendant took her to a secluded area, where he raped her while she was unconscious.
The cases were investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and City of Alexandria Police Department (ACPD), but remained open and unsolved until the second and third sexual assaults were linked through the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), along with a robbery of a man in June 2008, who worked at a bar in downtown Washington and who had hailed the defendant’s taxicab to take him home to Arlington, Va. The linkage of these crimes led MPD to identify Tornero as the suspect. MPD detectives obtained a sample of the defendant’s DNA, and it matched the DNA left behind by the assailant in 2006 and 2008.
“This guilty verdict demonstrates the power of DNA to help us capture and convict the most dangerous sex offenders,” said U.S. Attorney Machen. “Emero Tornero is a serial rapist whose shocking brutality forever changed the lives of three women who just needed a cab ride. Our community will be a safer place with this violent criminal behind bars.”
In a separate case, Tornero was found guilty by a jury in 2011 of charges stemming from a series of violent attacks that took place in 2008 against Maryland and Virginia taxicab drivers who were working in the District of Columbia, including one victim who was 78 years old. He was sentenced to a prison term of 24 years and three months for those crimes.
In announcing this week’s verdict, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the work of the detectives from the MPD’s Sexual Assault Unit and officers from the Third, Fourth and Fifth Districts and Forensic Science Division and the work of officers and detectives from ACPD. He also acknowledged the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Victim/Witness Advocate Melissa Milam; Paralegal Specialists Troy Griffith, Jason Manuel and Kristy Penny; Victim Witness Specialists David Foster, Katina Adams-Washington and LaJune Thames, and Litigation Technology Specialists Jeanie Lattimore-Brown, Leif Hickling and Josh Ellen. Lastly, he thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney David Last, who investigated the case, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sharon Donovan and Lindsay Suttenberg, who co-tried the case.13-004