Charles Rabin, Michelle Marchante, and David Ovalle
The Miami Herald
Mar. 30—A child who placed pillows on his bed to make it appear he was asleep, then sneaked out of his home well past his bedtime, was abducted, raped, shot in the head and left for dead on a Brownsville street, police said.
The child remained hospitalized Tuesday after Saturday’s attack. Police, using DNA evidence and going door-to-door in the Central Miami-Dade neighborhood, identified 43-year-old Aliex Santiesteban as the man who sexually assaulted the child.
They took him into custody Monday as he was leaving an Overtown apartment. Santiesteban has been charged with attempted murder, kidnapping and sexual battery with a deadly weapon. He was booked into the Turner Guilford Knight correctional center, without bond. Santiesteban denies the allegations, according to his arrest affidavit.
“As the father of a 12-year-old, this is extremely disturbing. It will take him years to overcome the trauma,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez.
On Tuesday morning in front of police headquarters in Doral, about two dozen detectives, most of whom work in the sex-crimes unit, gathered to discuss the abduction and arrest and express horror at a crime the director called “despicable.”
Pointing at a picture of Santiesteban, Ramirez called him “the face of evil, ladies and gentleman.”
Police said the boy left his Brownsville home to visit a friend who lives about 2 1/2 miles away and left pillows on his bed in case his parents checked up on him. Police said as the child was walking home, Santiesteban drove up to him at the corner of Northwest 43rd Terrace and 30th Avenue. It was about 3 a.m. Saturday.
Police wouldn’t go into details about the interaction between the suspect and the child after he noticed the vehicle. And they were extremely careful in how they worded any possible link between the child and Santiesteban.
“This isn’t really someone who is connected to him,” said Maj. Brian Rafky, who heads up the Special Victims Unit. “He was out walking and he was preyed upon.”
At some point, police said Santiesteban forced the boy into his car. The boy told police he couldn’t escape because the child locks were on.
Police said Santiesteban drove him about a block away and assaulted him on 31st Avenue.
“He sexually assaulted and shot him in the face. Then he dumped him out of the vehicle, leaving him for dead,” Rafky said.
Police said the boy couldn’t see at the time and was using his touch to try and find his way around, Local 10 reported. Then a good Samaritan found him screaming for help and escorted him to a nearby convenience store.
Rafky called the man who helped the boy a “hero.”
Surveillance cameras recorded the bloodied boy shortly after the attack as he walked to the market to call 911. He then collapsed. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue took him to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center in critical condition.
Rafky on Tuesday said police were able to match Santiesteban’s DNA to the crime, but he wouldn’t get more specific. He said police also recovered a firearm and the vehicle believed to be used in the assault. He also expressed concern that there may be other victims.
One law enforcement source told the Herald that investigators believe that Santiesteban shot himself in the hand during the attack, and then checked into Mount Sinai Medical Center, telling Miami Beach police he’d been attacked by three men who stabbed him in the hand. The detail was first reported by WFOR-CBS4’s Jim Defede.
Santiesteban’s DNA was found via his blood that splashed on the boy, according to the source.
When confronted by detectives, Santiesteban eventually admitted the boy had been in his car — but claimed that the child had tried to carjack him, the source said. Blood was also found inside Santiesteban’s car.
What happened immediately after his release wasn’t immediately clear. But Rafky said Santiesteban was taken into custody by Miami-Dade detectives outside of a complex at 1201 NW Third Ave., the Island Living Apartments in Overtown.
Santiesteban has had at least one previous arrest in Miami-Dade County.
In September 2016, a Hialeah lieutenant on patrol pulled over Santiesteban after seeing him involved in a possible traffic crash on East Eighth Avenue, according to a police report. Santiesteban, who was driving a black Mercedes-Benz, sped off but eventually stopped, police said. He had an “odor of alcoholic beverage” and was “slurring and could not keep his balance,” the report said.
He and the car’s passenger both came at the lieutenant swinging their arms “attempting to intervene” in the investigation, police said. The lieutenant pushed him to the ground, and Santiesteban was shot with a Taser stun gun to stop him from flailing, according to Hialeah police.
Santiesteban was charged with aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer and resisting with violence. Prosecutors, however, declined to press charges in the 2016 incident, although it was not immediately clear why on Tuesday.
Miami Herald staff writer David Neal contributed to this report
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