This week’s Deadline: Crime With Tamron Hall examines the shocking case of a teenage girl kidnapped on the way home in a case that took nearly 18 years to see justice done.
On June 14, 1997, 15-year-old Susie Hernandez was walking home in Denver when she was abducted at gun point.
The alarm was raised when she flagged down a car on the Interstate 270. She’d been kidnapped by a middle-aged man who sexually assaulted her before throwing her body into the river. Amazingly she survived and was able to crawl out and walk over half a mile to the Interstate.
Speaking to the press she said: “I remember just laying there, holding my head up looking at the sky thinking, ‘I can’t do this.’ And then I took a deep breath and I regained myself and I walked a half mile through the field with thorns poking through my feet.”
Despite widespread outrage and prolonged police investigations, the case went cold for 14 years. It was not until 2011 that Ray Ojeda was arrested on a marijuana charge and his DNA matched up with some taken from the girl in the 1997 assault.
He was arrested and in 2015 he was convicted, which had the added benefit of removing two innocent men from the shadow of being suspects in the police’s investigation.
Ojeda was sentenced to a total of 144 years in prison for attempted murder, kidnapping and sexual assault.
Deadline: Crime With Tamron Hall airs on Sundays at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.