Randy McIlwain, NBC 5 News
Allen police say a man caught on Target surveillance cameras is accused Lake Highlands serial rapist Cesar Benitez.
Investigators say the man suspected in three rapes in Lake Highlands was suspected in other crimes across North Texas, including peeping on a teenager in a public bathroom.
Cesar Benitez, 33, also known as Pino Porcayo, was charged in March with three sexual assaults in February and March. Police said DNA evidence connected him to the attacks and that Benitez had admitted to all three offenses.
Court documents show that Benitez was suspected in several peeping Tom cases in Allen, McKinney, Plano and Dallas last year. Allen police arrested Benitez in May on suspicion of voyeurism, or disorderly conduct.
According to an arrest affidavit obtained by NBC 5, Benitez was caught on surveillance video in April 2012 running from an Allen Target store after he was questioned about being in the women's restroom.
According to the affidavit, a 13-year-old girl was using the restroom when she dropped her phone in the stall. When she picked it up, she spotted a man on the floor of the adjacent stall looking at her. She immediately notified the store, and someone in the store snapped a photograph of him as he ran out of the store.
The store's surveillance cameras also captured images of Benitez
Allen police shared the information with other departments. Plano reported similar crimes and released store surveillance video and photographs of a man believed to be Benitez who was peeping in a Kohl's.
Allen police Sgt. Jon Felty said Benitez was identified in the Target peeping case because officers had assisted him with a broken-down car a few weeks earlier and had gotten his personal information.
"His car was disabled, and we had done a motorist's assist, so we realized he had been in our city," Felty said.
Allen police, who had a warrant in hand, had Benitez under surveillance in Rockwall in May when he was arrested.
"He attempted to do the same thing in a Target store and was arrested," Felty said.
Voyeurism is a disorderly conduct charge, which is a misdemeanor citation. Benitez's bond at the time was only $1,500. The fine was only $500, Felty said.
There is no record of Benitez spending time at the Collin County Jail for such an offense under his name or his alias of Pino Porcayo. It's possible he bonded out and paid the fine in Rockwall.
Plano police never filed a case for the incident at Kohl's.
Felty said the case shows the importance of reporting anything suspicious, because you never know who the person committing an offense might turn out to be.
In a year's time, "there are definitely some correlations between the two," Felty said.
Benitez is currently being held in the Dallas County Jail on a $4.5 million bond. He is also being held on an immigration detainer by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.