Guthrie County sheriff's deputy Kent Gries describes a drug-fueled attack.
Zachary Boyden-Holmes, DesMoines
One of two men wanted in the brutal beating and sexual assault of an elderly Story County woman is the great-grandson of the victim, authorities believe.
Jacob Jimenez, 18, knew the 82-year-old woman — who was punched, sexually abused, tied up and robbed by him and two others — as "grandma," according to search warrant applications by Story County investigators.
Jimenez, Manuel Balderas, 20, and Luis Cruz, 17, are accused of breaking into the woman's Kelley home late Aug. 23, 2018, and assaulting her, leaving the victim with a bloodied, swollen and bruised face and brain bleeding, court records show. Kelley, a town of about 300 people, is nearly 10 miles south of Ames.
Jacob Jimenez, 18, is accused of sexual abuse, burglary, robbery and other charges in a 2018 assault in Kelley in Story County. As of Friday, May 17, 2019, he was at large, said the Story County Sheriff's Office, which provided this undated photo. (Photo: Special to the Register)
The trio tied the woman to a chair and left the home through the broken window they entered through.
The men have been charged with first-degree sexual abuse, first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, willful injury, two counts of theft, and operating a motor vehicle without consent. Any conviction for that sexual abuse charge means a mandatory sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole.
"We consider them dangerous just by the acts they committed," Nick Lennie, chief deputy with the Story County Sheriff's Department, said Friday. "We are asking for the public's assistance. If (you) identify them or see them out in public, do not approach them, call 911 and get the authorities involved right away."
The search warrant says the suspects, on the same night, went to another relative of Jimenez's — his maternal grandfather and stepgrandmother — and took items from the home and stole a car.
Several of these electronics and jewelry taken from the two homes were found about a week later in a house that Jimenez and Balderas were hiding at during the execution of a search warrant, court records show.
Family members told authorities that Jimenez has previously burglarized his great-grandmother's home.
Now, Story County officials are searching for Balderas and Jimenez. Cruz, who authorities believe is a younger cousin of Balderas', was taken into custody in Texas this week with the help of the U.S. Marshals Service. Lennie said Cruz has residency in the state, and Balderas has family there as well.
What happened Aug. 23
Story County sheriff's deputies were called about midnight Aug. 23, 2018, to the 1100 block of Ford Street in Kelley for a call on an assault. The victim, an 82-year-old woman, told police she was beaten and sexually assaulted by three masked assailants who climbed through a window.
“When she confronted them, she was sprayed in the face with an unknown chemical and was unable to open her eyes," the warrant reads. "(The victim) said the men asked for money and she told them she did not have any. The men went through some other belongings, then began to punch her multiple times in her face."
The great-grandmother was eventually knocked to the ground, where she was pinned down and assaulted by each man, police say.
The victim was then tied to a chair as the suspects left the home. Authorities believe the trio tried to steal her car, but the keychain broke. The trio made off with a "small amount" of cash, a couple of electronics and jewelry.
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She was eventually able to free herself from the rope and chair and call police, the warrant states.
She "was transported to the hospital where it was determined she had a brain bleed; she was hospitalized five days," court records show. A rape kit was also administered the night of the assault.
Nearly three hours later, Story County deputies were called to the 900 block of Hubbel Street, where the 82-year-old victim's daughter lives, on the report of a burglary.
Authorities believe Balderas, Cruz and Jimenez stole from the latter's grandparents as well.
"It’s likely a family member was involved in the assault since both crimes involved the same family and Jacob would have known where (his grandfather's) car was located," the document states.
The couple's car was stolen and electronics, jewelry and some cash were taken from the home. The 1998 Cadillac was eventually found abandoned in Ames near campus residences on Iowa State University's campus.
An informant invigorates the investigation
Authorities were told by the victims that Jimenez had stolen from his family before, but a confidential informant helped investigators build the case that led to search warrants being granted and some items being recovered.
Less than a week after the violent attack, one of the suspects' mothers told friends that her son was involved in a robbery and called her to talk about it. The informant told police that the mother, who has a slew of theft charges in Story County herself, reported that her son said he had blood on his pants from the incident, but he waited outside while the two others beat the woman unconscious and ransacked her home.
The informant was able to tell investigators details confirmed by the victim.
"(The mother) told (her son) where to ditch the (stolen) vehicle near campus town in Ames," the document reads. "(She) said one of the men was scratched in the face during the incident. All three men wore gloves and masks."
Jimenez and Balderas both spent time hiding at an Ames home in the 100 block of Hickory Drive, the informant told police. Police went to that home more than once, records show, and on Aug. 31, Jimenez was at the house with some of the stolen items when law enforcement executed a search warrant.
Jimenez is said to have been living with his adopted mother, who also lives in Ames, and that house was searched as well. Lennie could not say what was found there, or in a Facebook search of accounts tied to Jimenez. Balderas' Facebook accounts have also been looked through.
A call to the Jimenez's mother's home has not been returned. Neither has a call to Cruz's father. The Register could not locate contact information for Balderas.
Jimenez has been seen in the Ames area in the past few days, Lennie said, but he is still at-large. Balderas may still be in the college town, but he has connections or family in Story and Marshall counties, the Lennie said, as well as Texas.
None of the men has a violent criminal past in Story County. Lennie said none of the men was familiar to law enforcement before the incident.
Story County's attorney's and sheriff's offices held a joint news conference Friday to announce the charges. County sheriff Paul Fitzgerald said the public announcement of the warrants reflected "the heinousness of this crime."
Those looking to help with the investigation should Sgt. Anthony Rhoad at 515-382-7529 or Central Iowa Crime Stoppers at 515-223-1400.
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