Suspect or suspects still sought in 2 Salem home invasions

SALEM, Ore. - Police have ruled out whether a man was connected to two home invasions last week, but he was arrested for a third.

Police had thought 19-year-old Armando Cervantes, who is accused of sexually assaulted a woman in her bedroom Saturday morning, might have been connected to other bedroom break-ins last Tuesday. But they said Monday there was no evidence to support that.

"I had two of my detectives come in and interview him on Saturday," said Lt. Steve Birr of the Salem Police Department. "He was cooperative; he provided a voluntary DNA sample. He just does not fit our suspect."

Cervantes was in court Monday on charges of attempted rape, burglary, sexual abuse and assault. The judge set no bail and said Cervantes could be a danger to the public based on the nature of his alleged crimes.

Since police have ruled out Cervantes as a suspect in the two other cases, they are still looking for a suspect or suspects who terrorized a little girl and a woman in two separate home invasions just hours and miles apart.

Police are currently waiting on DNA evidence and still don't know whether those two home invasions were committed by the same man or two different people. The suspect descriptions are similar.

The Salem Police Department has turned to the "High Throughput Property Crime Program." It's an Oregon State Police crime lab project created a year ago. The lab uses robots to analyze DNA samples. Police could identify a suspect in less than 30 days.

Salem police said it might have taken more than nine months to do so before this program was put in place.

Salem police said the new DNA testing has helped them identify more than 130 suspects in just this past year, which was far more than in years prior.