DNA evidence leads police to suspect in brutal Chicago rape that left teen in a coma

By Travis Gettys
Monday, January 6, 2014 8:15 EDT
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Luis Alberto Pantoja
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Detectives said DNA evidence collected from a condom wrapper led them to a suspect in a brutal sexual assault in Chicago that left a 15-year-old girl in a coma.

Luis Alberto Pantoja, 25, was arrested Friday and charged with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated battery and unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.

He was ordered held without bond Sunday by a judge. Authorities requested a sign language interpreter during the hearing because Pantoja is hearing impaired.

The girl was attacked shortly before 5:30 a.m. Dec. 17 while on her way to catch a bus to meet her father, who was supposed to take her to school.

A neighbor found her half-clothed and bleeding from the head after the attack.

The girl was initially reported to be comatose with severe head injuries, but her condition improved late last month and she has spoken with police.

The victim remains in critical condition, police said.

“She’s doing better. Her and her family are taking it day by day, but we can only keep her in our thoughts and hope she improves. But she is doing better,” said Gary Yamashiroya, of Chicago police.

Police submitted DNA evidence to a federal database and found a match to Pantoja, who was required to submit a sample after he was convicted in a 2007 fatal crash.

Pantoja was sentenced to six years in prison for his guilty plea to possession of a stolen motor vehicle and failure to report a traffic crash that involved death charges.

His criminal record dates to 2005, with arrests for theft, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, domestic battery after an order of protection was filed, trespassing, possession of cannabis, failure to report an accident involving death/reckless homicide, leaving the scene of accident and eluding police.

Pantoja was arrested for criminal sexual assault in August, but a judge dismissed the case in September after finding no probable cause, but no further details about the case were available.

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