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Citrus Heights police arrest man suspected of sexually assaulting elderly woman

Dustin Smith, Citrus Heights, sex assault
A police sketch of a sex assault suspect, paired with a photo of Dustin Smith, who was arrested in connection with an Aug. 31 sexual assault. // Image courtesy, CHPD

Updated Sept. 1, 10:51 p.m.–
Less than 24 hours after releasing a sketch of a man suspected of sexually assaulting an elderly woman in her home Thursday morning, Citrus Heights police announced the arrest of 31-year-old Dustin Smith in connection with the incident.

In a news release issued Friday night, Citrus Heights police said detectives had obtained a search warrant for Smith’s nearby home, which “revealed evidence that associated him to the sexual assault.” Police said he was arrested and charged with rape, burglary, elder abuse, and oral copulation.

The alleged sexual assault was reported to police around 6:30 a.m. Thursday on the 7100 block of Wonner Way, located near Cripple Creek and Van Maren Lane. A composite sketch of the suspect was released to the public Thursday evening.

During the investigation, police said patrol officers and detectives “canvassed the area, interviewed numerous people, collected forensic evidence from the scene, and collected video evidence from nearby residences.” The department said the extensive investigation “provided valuable leads as to the identity of Mr. Smith.”

Police said Smith “lives within close proximity to the victim” and was at home at the time officers served a search warrant. He was taken into custody without incident.

Friday’s news release included the following statement from Citrus Heights Police Chief Ron Lawrence:

“Vile crimes such as those committed by this suspect are reprehensible, and I am pleased he is behind bars. As a result of outstanding, good old-fashioned police work by dedicated professionals of the Citrus Heights Police Department, we have successfully investigated, identified, and peacefully captured this despicable rapist. I am very proud of our police professionals who worked tirelessly to investigate this heinous crime over the past 36 hours. I am thankful for all of our community members who offered assistance in helping to bring this suspect to justice. But most importantly, I am especially grateful for the courage of the survivor who demonstrated tremendous strength to help us identify this suspect that ultimately led to his capture.”

The department also credited the work of Sgt. Janet Schaefer, CHPD’s in-house forensic sketch artist, who drew the composite sketch of the suspect. Several similarities can be observed in a side-by-side comparison, while a prior sketch released by police in another incident last year received national attention and criticism due to the drawing depicting unusually large eyes.

Initial story from Aug. 31, 2017:
Citrus Heights police have released a composite sketch of a suspect who is believed to have sexually assaulted an elderly woman in her home early Thursday morning.

In a news release issued late Thursday evening, police said the woman involved had called 911 around 6:30 a.m. to report she had been assaulted at her home on the 7100 block of Wonner Way, located near Cripple Creek and Van Maren Lane. She told officers the suspect had fled on foot.

Police said officers arrived several minutes later and confirmed a sexual assault had occurred, “although the victim did not have any visible signs of trauma.” An extensive search of the area did not result in locating the suspect.

Officials described the suspect as a white male adult in his early 30’s, approximately 5-feet-8-inches tall, and 140 pounds. He was clean shaven, with brown eyes and long brown hair tied into a pony tail, police said.

The man was last seen wearing a sleeveless white T-shirt and white basketball-style shorts with green trim.

“We are requesting anyone who may have been driving through the area and saw something suspicious, or any nearby residents who may have surveillance cameras to contact the Citrus Heights Police Department,” authorities said in the news release.

A preliminary police investigation revealed the suspect entered the elderly woman’s house through an open window.

Anyone with information related to the incident is asked to call the police department’s non-emergency line at (916) 727-5500. Anonymous tips can also be left on CHPD’s crime tip line at (916) 727-5524.

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