12 years later, detectives still hope for arrests in gang rape case

12 years later, detectives still hope for arrests in gang rape case
Feliciano Zarate-Rios (left) and Margarito Reyes-Vasquez in mug shots from more than a decade ago. Zarate-Rios is now 33 years old and Reyes-Vasquez is now 37. (Photos courtesy Washington County Sheriff's Office)

HILLSBORO, Ore. – Almost 12 years after a brutal gang rape on a desolate Washington County road, detectives are making a new push to find two suspects they never were able to arrest for the crime.

They hope that by publicizing the story now, they will get new information on two suspects who might have fled to Mexico. Investigators think one of the men is a serial rapist who may be back in the Portland area.

On March 5, 2000, detectives said two 14-year-old girls decided to walk to a corner store at NW Cornell Avenue and NW Garibaldi Street in Hillsboro. It was 4:30 a.m. and they had just snuck out of the house during a sleepover.

After the girls found the store was closed, investigators said they noticed a slow-moving van driving towards them. As the van pulled alongside them, detectives said several men jumped out and threw the struggling girls in the back.

The door locks had been disabled so the girls couldn’t escape, according to Washington County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. David Thompson.

Thompson said the two girls tried to fight back, but there were five men in the van and the girls were no match.

The suspects drove the girls about 12 miles out of town to a secluded area on a gravel road near Gaston. That’s when Thompson said they took turns holding the girls down and raping them.

During the sexual assault, the girls told detectives they tried to fight back. One girl even threw a sneaker in an attempt to break the window. It didn’t break the glass but did hit one of the suspects in the head.

At one point, Thompson said one of the girls was smothered with a child’s bib over her nose and mouth. The other girl grabbed the bib to help her friend but was then choked herself by one of the men.

Both girls later told investigators they thought they would be killed.

After the sexual assault, the suspects threw the girls out of the van. One girl hit her head during the fall.

Both were only half-dressed, bruised and scraped. They walked down the dark road and eventually found a good Samaritan who called 911.

Based on a detailed description from the two girls, deputies launched a massive search for the van and the five suspects. They said four of the suspects were Hispanic men and one was a Hispanic teenager.

A couple days later, investigators found the van at a Hillsboro apartment complex. The van’s owner, Anselmo Vasquez-Vasquez, 40, and his acquaintance, Felix Vasquez-Aragon, 33, were both in the apartment. Deputies detained both men, although they denied being in the van.

Several days later, detectives found the teenage boy who the girls described. Pedro Vasquez-Garcia was 15-years-old at the time. When questioned, he quickly confessed to his crimes.

Vasquez-Garcia was charged as an adult and pleaded guilty to two charges of sex abuse and one count of kidnapping. He was released from prison in 2007.

The two men from the apartment, Anselmo Vasquez-Vasquez and Felix Vasquez-Aragon, were also arrested and eventually pleaded guilty. They will both be eligible for release in 2016.

Detectives issued warrants for the two other suspects, Margarito Reyes-Vasquez, 37, and Feliciano Zarate-Rios, 32. However, despite a large manhunt, the two were never found.

Detectives think both escaped to Mexico soon after the assaults. Both men still have active warrants for rape, kidnapping, sex abuse, and unlawful sexual penetration.

Investigators said they think Margarito Reyes-Vasquez is a serial rapist with a prior history of rape in Portland. In the previous case, his female victim would not testify against him.

During the attack, one of the girls suffered a severe bite on her breast and the DNA from that was linked to Reyes-Vasquez.

Investigators think Reyes-Vasquez may be back in the area using an alias.

Detectives said he has a distinctive deformed chin so that half of his chin appears higher than the other.

Detectives hope that even more than a decade later, somebody will have information about Reyes-Vasquez and Zarate-Rios. If you know anything about these two men, you can call Detective Linda Trapp at (971) 217-1412.