DELTONA, Florida — It took 17 years to solve the case. However, when dealing with a violent sexual assault, it’s never too late to make an arrest. And that’s just what happened this week when investigators with the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office’s Sex Crimes Unit tracked a man to Arkansas who has now been arrested for a 1995 sexual battery in Deltona.
The defendant, Witar Luangamat, is 34-years-old now. But he was just 17 at the time that he’s accused of breaking into the home of a sleeping 29-year-old woman and attacking her in her bedroom. The victim’s 10-month-old child also was in the house, but wasn’t injured. The attack occurred at about 5 a.m. on April 10, 1995, when the suspect gained entry into the house by punching a hole in a living room window. The intruder was naked except for a facial covering. He used a telephone cord to tie the victim to her bed, and she awoke to the suspect on top of her. When the victim fought back, the suspect put a pillow over her head to stop her from resisting. The two rolled off the bed and the struggle continued on the floor, where the suspect put her in a choke hold and threatened to hurt the child if she didn’t stop making noise. Later, the victim would tell Sheriff’s investigators that she felt like she was in a fight for her life. After the intruder finished sexually assaulting the victim, he released the choke hold and fled out the front door wearing only a pair of tennis shoes. He also took the victim’s purse and some of her personal items with him. Because the suspect had pulled the plug on the telephone connection, the victim gathered up her child and went to a neighbor to seek help.
Sheriff’s investigators who responded at the time collected up evidence found at the scene, including a flashlight, two batteries and a cigarette lighter. They also lifted several sets of fingerprints, including one from the victim’s bedroom, one from the batteries and another from the lighter. But they were never able to match the fingerprints to a suspect. That all changed a couple of months ago, when the Sheriff’s Office’s Technical Services Unit initiated a cold case review of unsolved cases in which fingerprints had been lifted, but never matched up to a suspect. Using the Sheriff’s Office’s automated fingerprint system, technicians were able to match the fingerprints from the case to Luangamat.
Meanwhile, Sex Crimes investigators tracked down the victim to where she’s currently living in Seminole County and slowly gained her trust to the point where she was willing to talk about the attack. The Sheriff’s Office also coordinated the investigation with the State Attorney’s Office, which resulted in the issuance of an arrest warrant last week by Circuit Court Judge Randell H. Rowe III. With a Sheriff’s investigator on-hand to interview the defendant, the Bentonville Police Department picked up Luangamat on Tuesday. He’s being held at the Benton County Jail in Arkansas without bond pending his extradition back to Volusia County.