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Sacramento 'Roaming Rapist' Suspect Arrested 14 Years After First Attacks

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A man suspected of a series of rapes in Sacramento County from 1998 to 2003 is finally behind bars. The suspect, known as the "Roaming Rapist" was arrested on Thursday, 14 years after the first attack.

Dereck Sanders
Dereck Sanders

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, along with District Attorney Jan Scully, members of the California Attorney General's Office and Sacramento Police Department, announced the arrest of Dereck Jermaine Sanders at a Friday morning news conference.

Sanders, 39, was arrested at his home in Isleton. He is suspected of more than a dozen rapes in Sacramento County and two in the city of Sacramento. He's been charged with 35 counts of forcible sexual assaults, including 16 rapes. There were nine incidents and 10 victims, according to criminal complaint. He was booked into the Sacramento County Jail on $5 million bail.

"I have told many people that before I retired I wanted this case solved," Sacramento Police Detective Avis Beery said. "I am thrilled we finally located this individual."

Sanders was under surveillance by sheriff's detectives Wednesday when he was observed going through a McDonald's drive-thru for lunch and then discarded his bag. Detectives picked it up, had it tested and got a DNA match on a straw Sanders used, according to the arrest affidavit.

"This was a perfect marriage between technology, modern policing, and good old-fashion detective work," Sheriff Scott Jones said.

He had earlier been implicated by a "familia DNA" match to a brother who was already in custody for rape at the county jail. Ladell Sanders, 42, was arrested in December 2011 by the Sacramento Police Department and charged with rape and oral copulation by force.

Dereck Sanders' victims ranged in age from 14-42, according to the sheriff's department, including two 14-year-old girls who snuck out of one of the victim's houses before they were approached by Sanders at gunpoint on Madison Avenue near Sunrise, according to the complaint. He raped both girls, including one twice, the complaint said.

Other victims included a married woman who was walking alone from a party after an argument with her husband when Sanders attacked her. Two prostitutes were also targeted, the affidavit said.

A woman who didn't want to show her face on camera said she's been in a long-term relationship with Sanders, living with him during the alleged rapes.

"This is a shock," she said. "I knew about his brother, but I did not know.

The woman said she has children with Sanders, the oldest born in 1998, the year of the first reported rapes Sanders allegedly committed.

"Three daughters, that's what makes it shocking," she said.

At the time of the rapes, the "Roaming Rapist" was described as approaching his victims on foot, on bike and in several different vehicles, including a van that one victim mistook for a taxi. Law enforcement had several sketches from different witnesses but never made an arrest until now.

He was known to strike up conversations with some of his victims before attacking them. He was armed with a handgun in many of the attacks, according to the criminal complaint.

Sanders' arraignment is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Detectives believe that there may additional victims. Anyone with information pertaining to the investigation is asked to call the sheriff's Sex Assaults Bureau at (916) 874-5070.

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