Police arrest suspect in 2008 Kind Grind sexual assault and robbery
After three years of investigation, the man who held a local coffee shop employee hostage at knifepoint and sexually assaulted her has been arrested.
Elvis Lorenzo Garcia entered the Kind Grind café at the Santa Cruz Harbor before business hours on March 19, 2008, where he committed the aforementioned crimes against a 23-year-old female employee and robbed the establishment. According to Santa Cruz Police Chief Kevin Vogel, Garcia was arrested on Friday, March 11, 2011 and charged with eight felony counts, including kidnapping, robbery and various sexual assault charges.
At a Tuesday, March 15 press conference, Vogel recalled how the incident “ripped a giant hole through the fabric of the community.” The Santa Cruz Police Department collaborated with the State Attorney General and California Department of Justice in the investigation, relying on high-tech state resources that Vogel says led to the suspect’s capture.
Attorney General Kamala Harris was present at the press conference, held at SCPD headquarters in Downtown Santa Cruz, where she called the Kind Grind attack “one of the most serious and violent crimes we’ve seen in the state.” Harris explained that the case is only the second in the country to have successfully used a “familial connection” to find a suspect. The method involves comparing DNA found at the crime scene to a state database of samples and looking for matches with relatives. A relative of Garcia’s, whose identity is being withheld, was in the database and led to Garcia’s discovery.
“We’ve done 13 such comparisons in California, and this is only the second hit,” Harris said. She added that there are 10 more cases waiting to be tested, but that the process requires extensive lab work, scientist involvement, and even the use of expensive robots.
Harris, a former prosecutor, said that “it is one of my biggest priorities” to send more resources to these labs. “I don’t want to see a day in California when we don’t see justice because we don’t have the resources to test the DNA,” she said. In her three months as attorney general, Harris reports being “disturbed” by the backlog of cases.
Harris lauded Santa Cruz’s request for state assistance in this investigation, and hopes other California counties will do the same. Of the 58 counties in California, Harris said, “they aren’t all San Francisco or Los Angeles”—but smaller counties like Santa Cruz still need the resources to handle important cases such as this.
The Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s office will prosecute the case. DA Bob Lee, who also spoke at the press conference, thanked the SCPD for their hard work and the Department of Justice for their extensive help in brining the victim justice. He added that Garcia will be kept off the streets for good—serving at least 80 years to life. “Some crimes are so brutal that we’re able to file charges as ‘one strike and you’re out,’” he said.
Garcia’s arraignment began Tuesday, March 15 and will continue March 29.