An illegal immigrant and another man who live in the trailer park where a 22-year-old woman disappeared last Saturday are charged with kidnapping and raping her. The woman’s sister found her in the home of Luiz Lopez-Lara, 25, and Helmer Erazo, 23, on Monday afternoon.
Lopez-Lara and Erazo are charged with first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping, and first-degree sexual abuse. Lopez-Lara is being held without bond because prosecutors fear he would disappear if a bond is allowed. A judge set Erazo’s bond at $150,000.
The men live in the Briarwood Mobile Home Park off Farm Road 156 near Missouri 413 (Sunshine Street) just west of south Springfield, where the girl lives with her sister.
According to the probable cause statements against the men, the victim has autism and the mental capacity of a 9-year-old child. She left a note when she disappeared “but it was unintelligible.”
More than 60 sheriff’s deputies, state troopers, and Springfield and Republic police officers searched the home and the surrounding area. They used bloodhounds from the Ozarks Correctional Center near Fordland, the sheriff’s department’s Mounted Posse, a Highway Patrol helicopter crew, and dozens of citizen-volunteers, but didn’t find the woman on Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning.
On Monday afternoon, the woman’s sister started walking through the mobile home park and showing her sister’s picture to people. That’s when a man standing at his mailbox told her that her sister was in his home. The woman’s sister called the sheriff’s department, which arrested three men, although only Lopez-Lara and Erazo were charged as of Tuesday afternoon. Officers said Lara-Lopez fled to another nearby mobile home before he was found and arrested.
The 22-year-old woman told officers and trained interviewers at the Child Advocacy Center that she’d been sexually assaulted and held against her will.
The woman said she ran away from her home because she was upset. As she was walking, according to the probable cause statement, she said “some ‘Mexicans were hitting on me,’ they were saying, ‘Hey pretty girl,’ whistling at her, and asked her to drink alcoholic beverages with them at their residence. She described the males as the ‘Mexican with the pony tail,’ the ‘Mexican in the black shirt,’ and the ‘Mexican in the green shirt.’, according to the detective’s statement.