A Colorado man has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars for kidnapping and raping multiple homeless women.
Joseph Gabriel Van Eck, 33, was sentenced to between 162 years and life in prison for kidnapping and sexually assaulting the victims in Denver in 2020, according to a press release from the District Attorney’s Office for both Gilpon and Jefferson Counties.
The investigation into the attacks began on April 19 of 2020 when “a young woman reported to Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputies that she had been picked up in Denver and driven into the foothills where she was sexually assaulted,” according to the press release.
From there, three other victims “who reported similar experiences in August and September 2020” were identified.
“All four victims were unhoused females” and from “a vulnerable community,” the press release specifies.
Three of the four victims were lured into Van Eck’s truck after he offered to give them a ride while one victim “was grabbed and pulled into the truck by her purse.”
During the attacks, “Van Eck would drive to a remote area in Jefferson County where he threatened to kill, physically assaulted, and forced them to engage in unwanted sexual activity.”
During several of the attacks, Van Eck, who was referred to as a “sexually violent predator,” had both a gun and a knife on him.
One of the victims gave an impact statement during Monday’s sentencing hearing in which she said, “Because of him, I’m scared of everybody. He terrified me beyond belief.”
The district attorney has “thanked the victims for their bravery and resilience throughout the lengthy judicial proceedings,” according to their press release.
A Jefferson County jury found Van Eck guilty in March of three counts of sexual assault, two counts of second-degree kidnapping, four counts of soliciting for prostitution, one count of attempted sex assault, and one count of unlawful sexual contact and one count of theft.
In the remotest chance that Van Eck is released from prison, he would remain on probation for the rest of his life, a sentence that investigators say is more than warranted.
“These four women lived on the streets, and that’s where he hunted them,” Chief Deputy District Attorney Tyra Forbes said in the release. “Kidnapping them, threatening them, beating them, driving them to a deserted trailhead in the middle of the night, brutally raping them, and then dumping them on the side of I-70. … That level of depravity deserves the maximum sentence allowed by law.”
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