Police arrest man in kidnap-rape case

Lionel Blanks, 36, was arrested yesterday at approximately 5:00 p.m. near his residence for the abduction and rape of a woman last weekend in Palo Alto.

A Santa Clara man who is suspected of brutally beating, kidnapping and raping a young woman in her black Mercedes over the weekend was arrested by police.

Lionel Blanks, 36, was taken into custody by Santa Clara detectives Wednesday at about 5 p.m. near his home in Santa Clara, according to a news release issued today by Palo Alto police. Blanks was booked into the Santa Clara County Main Jail on suspicion of kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery and attempted murder, according to police.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case and will determine what charges to file, according to spokeswoman Amy Cornell. Once charges are filed, Blanks will be arraigned Friday in court.

The woman’s frightening ordeal began in Palo Alto about 1:30 a.m. Saturday when a man forced his way into her 2001 black Mercedes ML320, police said earlier in the week.

He then beat the woman, whose SUV was stopped for an undisclosed reason in the 1600 block of El Camino Real near Serra Street, police said. The man then drove about 18 miles to the 400 block of Saratoga Avenue near Pruneridge Avenue in Santa Clara, where he sexually assaulted her, according to Palo Alto police.

Shortly before 5:30 a.m., the man took off on foot.

Police have said the woman got out of her SUV and flagged down a passing motorist in Santa Clara who called 911 for her.

She was treated and released from the hospital.

Investigators worked around the clock for the past five days, processing separate crime scenes and chasing down multiple leads, according to Palo Alto police. The Santa Clara County Crime Lab provided tremendous assistance in identifying the suspect, police said.

A man who lives in an apartment complex at 440 North Winchester in Santa Clara said he witnessed police involved in a high-speed chase with a gold pickup truck Wednesday around 4 p.m. Two unmarked cars and one marked car chased the pickup truck through the apartment complex; the truck forced its way into traffic on Newhall Street.

“The next 10 minutes, I heard cops flying,” around the complex, the man said. About half an hour later, he said he saw about 25 officers descend upon the Le Parc apartments.

Property records indicate Blanks’ most recent address is at the complex at 440 North Winchester. Palo Alto police did not return calls seeking comment about the chase or more details surrounding Blanks’ arrest.

Palo Alto police were assisted in the investigation by Santa Clara police, the Stanford University Department of Public Safety and other regional law enforcement agencies.

Police have said the woman was not able to provide a detailed description of her attacker.

Investigators have been tight-lipped about their investigation. Kara Salazar of the Palo Alto Police Department previously described the crime as “a violent and scary act.”

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