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Officer’s Memory Led To Lake Highlands Arrest

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Stephanie Lucero
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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Police officers in Dallas were honored by the city council on Wednesday for their involvement in the hunt for a serial rapist in the Lake Highlands area. Chief David Brown called them the heroes of Lake Highlands. And although law enforcement worked as a team, it was one officer’s amazing memory that led to an arrest in the case.

“We said all along that the men and women in blue would get this animal,” said Dallas City Council member Jerry Allen. “And we knew, I knew, that it would be a tough fight, almost like a needle in a haystack.”

The community supplied thousands of tips, but it was the recollection of one officer that helped lead to the arrest of Cesar Benitez. About a year ago, Officer Geoff Pettay remembered talking to two undercover detectives from Allen who were looking for a Peeping Tom suspect in the same area. In that case, the victim was a teenage girl. “I had no idea who this guy is or was or anything, just his name and a description of him. That was it,” Pettay said. “Somehow, someway, God, I don’t know.”

After police released a composite sketch of the Lake Highlands serial rapist, Pettay started to do his own research. He developed a name and picture with some help from a local resident. “The sketch was out and I saw that, and I said that’s got to be him,” Pettay recalled. Dallas detectives took that information, along with a tip that came in to Crime Stoppers, and arrested Benitez six days later.

“I couldn’t sleep,” explained Pettay. “After they caught him and said his name, it kind of got a little more stressful for me, because, I said, ‘Man, what if the DNA doesn’t match? I’m going to look like an idiot.'” But that was not the case. Police got DNA confirmation that linked 30-year-old Benitez to the string of sexual assaults.

Deputy Chief Andrew Acord said, “It’s a clear example of how serious all the officers were about capturing and apprehending this suspect.”

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