Las Vegas police have arrested a 63-year-old man suspected of groping, kissing and exposing himself to “several” children he lured into his east valley apartment with candy, Metropolitan Police Department officials announced Wednesday.
The incidents reportedly took place over the course of at least a year, all within the Charleston Gardens apartment complex on the 4800 block of East Charleston Boulevard, between the Charleston intersections of Lamb and Nellis boulevards.
The man arrested, Jose Azucena, had been living there for 14 years, an arrest report obtained Wednesday by the Las Vegas Review-Journal suggests, and at least one of the victims’ families had been living at the complex for eight years.
Azucena is being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center on two counts of sexual assault with a child younger than 14, six counts of lewdness with a child younger than 14, one count of open and gross lewdness with a child younger than 18 and one count of kidnapping.
He is due in court Monday.
Police initially were contacted Oct. 17 by two different mothers regarding allegations that a neighbor had inappropriately touched their four collective children. The children later told detectives they hadn’t come forward for so long because the neighbor in question had told them “if they told their mothers, he would take the girls far away and kill their mothers.”
All four children told police the neighbor — whom they called “David,” and whom the mothers knew as “David Azucena” —had touched, groped and kissed them on multiple occasions. Sometimes it happened in the man’s apartment, sometimes outdoors in an area of the complex where the children typically played together.
More than one victim also told police the man had shown them pornographic videos on his cellphone.
In one incident, one child had been asked by her mother to invite David’s wife over for dinner. The girl walked over to the apartment and asked for the man’s wife, but she was not home. The man then took the girl inside, brought her into his bedroom, stripped her, taped up her legs, hands and mouth, then fondled the girl.
“Since she was taped up she could not stop him or scream for help,” the report reads. When the man got up to use the bathroom, the girl was then able to remove her tape restraints. When he soon exited the bathroom, he told her to get dressed and go home “because she had been gone too long and her mom might worry.”
The mothers eventually found out about the allegations after one of the children told another woman who lived in the complex. That woman then told the child’s mother, who then told the mother of the other children reportedly involved.
While speaking to police, one mother broke down, according to the report. She told detectives her daughters have since said they have nightmares about the neighbor standing at their windows at night and that the children are afraid the neighbor is going to “kill their family.”
The Metro investigation showed the man the families knew as David Azucena was named Jose Azucena. He did not have a local criminal history, but was a convicted felon for manslaughter in California. The report also suggests he was living in the U.S. illegally as he already had been deported twice.
Police made contact with Azucena’s wife shortly after speaking with the victims and the mothers, but the wife told police her husband hadn’t been home in several days and she didn’t know where he was.
Azucena was taken into custody Nov. 12 at a smog inspection station on the 1200 block of South Boulder Highway. In an interview with police, he told detectives he did not know why he was in custody.
When detectives asked why he had disappeared for several weeks and hadn’t told his wife where he went, he said “he had a job to do” and that he “doesn’t answer to her.” He did not speak about the children or incidents in question and quickly requested an attorney.
Because Azucena has lived in the apartment complex for many years, police are asking anyone with information about the incidents, or people who believe their children might be victims, to call Metro’s sexual abuse juvenile section at 702-828-3421 or Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555.
Contact Rachel Crosby at email@example.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @rachelacrosby on Twitter.