This story was updated Oct. 11, 2018 at 2:33 p.m,
Nassau County police have arrested and charged an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador with raping a Freeport woman outside her home on Sept. 28.
Officials said that the 36-year-old victim, whom they did not identify, was walking home at around 1:40 a.m. that day when Ever Martinez Reyes, 24, knocked her unconscious in her own yard, on Parson Avenue near Frank O. White Memorial Park, and then sexually assaulted her. Police arrested Martinez Reyes on Oct. 5.
Martinez Reyes, who was born and raised in El Salvador and lives in Roosevelt, followed the woman for a few blocks before attacking her, police said. When she woke up, she realized Martinez Reyes was raping her, but before she could react, he knocked her out again and continued the assault, according to authorities. Martinez Reyes ran off and was last seen near Elm Street and Ray Avenue in Freeport.
He immigrated to the United States illegally in 2010, when he was 16 years old, officials said. He was deported, but in 2014 he re-entered the country illegally and moved to Freeport. Since moving to Long Island, he had worked as a day laborer, often as a landscaper.
According to Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, Martinez Reyes had no prior criminal record and was not affiliated with a gang. At the time of his arrest, police received a tip that he was planning to flee the country to El Salvador.
“I’ve been doing this a long time, and this is one of the most brutal rapes that I’ve ever seen,” Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said.
As the manhunt began, police released surveillance footage to the media. According to police, the media’s quick coverage helped officials identify and capture Martinez Reyes.
The Herald Leader shared police surveillance video and photos on Facebook, prompting readers to share the post on their own timelines numerous times.
“This happened right around the corner [from] my house,” Jennifer Carrero wrote in a Facebook post. “I came home late that night and to know he was out there at that time — it’s scary.”
“The most important thing that [helped us] is the fact that our community got together and looked at the information that was put out in our bulletin and in the media,” Ryder said. “That’s when our tips came in.”
Martinez Reyes was charged with two counts of first-degree rape, two counts of first-degree sexual abuse and second-degree assault, and faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted. He was arraigned last Saturday in First District Court in Hempstead, and was scheduled to make his next court appearance on Wednesday.
The incident had residents of north Freeport on edge, even though Martinez Reyes was in custody. Neighbors were having conversations about safety. Thalia Perez, a mother of two small children, said that she visits Frank O. White Park two to three times a week, and was in shock when she heard about the rape. She added that she hoped the neighborhood and park could have better lighting at night, and that police surveillance could be stepped up.
“We were at the park the day before,” Perez said. “I can’t get over something like that happening so close to the place where my kids play.”
Sitting on a bench at the park on Tuesday, Edward Johnson said he could not believe a rape had occurred just steps from his home. “It’s tragic that a person can actually do that to another person,” he said. “This is a heinous crime.”
A neighbor, Elzo Lucas, said that assaults are rare in the area. “This came out of nowhere,” he said. “I’m very shocked. This type of thing doesn’t happen in our neighborhood.”
Johnson agreed, adding that “one time is one too many.”
“If you are a sexual predator in Nassau County . . . get out,” County Executive Laura Curran said. “If you prey on our vulnerable people here, we will find you, arrest you and prosecute you.”