A suspected serial rapist is off the streets, St. Petersburg Police said Tuesday, the same day a woman who claiming to be one of the suspect's victims spoke out.
Steven Carvajal, a homeless man, was arrested over the weekend after an officer spotted a woman chasing him down 34th Street North; police said that woman had just witnessed Carvajal rape another woman.
Shortly after, the victim showed up at the scene.
"She was obviously upset, crying and related to us that [Carvajal], in fact, had pulled her off the street by knife-point, had disrobed her and sexually assaulted her," said Mike Puetz, a police spokesperson.
As detectives investigated further, they showed the picture of the suspect to Valerie Mills.
"My jaw dropped," Mills told FOX 13 News. "You don't forget somebody's face that does something like that to you."
Mills said Carvajal, 26, is the same person who tried to rape her in July when he attacked her as she walked to a gas station in her neighborhood early one morning.
"He was choking me, had a knife to my throat the entire time," she said, adding she was eventually able to break free and run away. "It was horrifying, and thank God I was able to get away from him."
Mills called police, who searched the community and didn't immediately make an arrest. A few days later, Mills called 911 to tell them she had just seen the man who attacked her at a nearby restaurant.
Mills said she wishes that's when his alleged crime would have ended.
"Three months ago, the police could have prevented this [latest rape]," Mills said. "She's lucky to be alive. It's horrifying."
But investigators said Carvajal had an alibi that checked out, and officers didn't have enough evidence to arrest him, so he was released.
"The DNA was not plentiful enough for us to make a positive identification," Puetz said, adding detectives will now likely take another look at Mills' case. "We can certainly take a fresh look at that case given the fact that we now have a very similar case involving another woman."
Police believe Carvajal either raped or tried to rape at least four women. They're unsure, however, whether there are other unidentified victims who are less willing to come forward because they have histories of drug use and prostitution.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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