VENTURA- The Ventura Police Department and California State Parks Department are investigating a homicide after a sexual assault suspect who was attacked by a group of people near Emma Wood State Beach, died. Jose Mendez, 31, had been hospitalized since the alleged sexual assault and attack on May 5, 2020. He died May 25th, according to a Ventura Police Department news release.
State Parks rangers and Ventura police responded state beach property near Emma Wood State Beach around 6:00 p.m. on May 5th to reports of a possible sex assault. The initial call to law enforcement was not clear as to the exact location of the incident. It was later determined this occurred on State Parks property. The law enforcement officers located the alleged victim and suspect on the bike path adjacent to the Ventura County fairgrounds. The suspect was unconscious in a pull wagon.
During the course of the investigation it was learned that the victim was walking on a bike path with her dog when she decided to walk on the beach heading towards Emma Wood State Beach. As she began her walk on the beach, she reportedly noticed the suspect following her at a distance. The victim told police she let her dog off leash while she was on the beach and her dog fled into the brush. As she went into the brush area to find her dog the suspect went with her and allegedly sexually assaulted her. The victim screamed and the suspect ran away. Several individuals in the river bottom heard the commotion and learned that the victim may have been sexually assaulted. The group chased after the suspect and began to assault him. The suspect was knocked unconscious and was put into a pull wagon and taken to the bike path where he was left. The victim returned to the bike path, identified the suspect, and stood by for law enforcement officers. The suspect was transported by ambulance to the hospital where he died 20 days later.
“The Ventura River Group Camp of Emma Wood State Beach is littered with illegal encampments within the watershed and beach area,” said Resource Protection Peace Officers Association (RPPOA) Director Geno Lucich. “Significant crime in this area has plagued this under developed and ill-maintained State Park along the Ventura coast for decades. With recent beach closures in other adjacent areas, visitation has increased in this park unit, which, if developed could be a gem of the State Park system verses a dangerous crime zone.”
Detectives are investigating the suspect’s death as a homicide, The investigation into the alleged sexual assault remains ongoing.