Judge: No bail for suspect in sexual assault, strangulation of girl, 12
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporter May 8, 2014 1:12PM
Updated: May 8, 2014 11:57PM
A Minnesota man charged with sexually assaulting and murdering a 12-year-old South Side girl five years ago was ordered held without bail Thursday.
Cook County prosecutors said investigators were led to Rene Valentin-Matos after they discovered that the DNA found under the fingernails of Jahmeshia Conner matched the DNA that was traced from Valentin-Matos’ victim in a rape in Pilsen 2011.
Jahmeshia’s body was found in an Englewood alley 15 days after she was last seen running toward a bus near her aunt’s house at 63rd and Racine, Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Mack said.
Valentin-Matos, 47, allegedly sexually assaulted his second victim, 26, after she sought shelter in his home following her eviction.
Following Thursday’s court hearing, Birdie Lewis — Jahmeshia’s mom — said Valentin-Matos’ capture was the best Mother’s Day gift she could ask for.
Lewis also said she was grateful the second victim stepped forward and helped authorities in their investigation.
Jahmeshia’s death sparked controversy over how police treat missing-children’s cases. A national missing-children’s center had said police placed Jahmeshia in a category on an FBI database reserved for runaways. Police said that was not their intent, but also admitted they never sent the media a missing-persons bulletin on Jahmeshia.
In the wake of her death, police began sending out more frequent notices about missing children so they will not be dismissed as “runaways,” as Jahmeshia apparently was.