Sharwian Bobian—who went missing for a month after the Santa Clara County District Attorney refused to file charges of him raping a woman who tried to help him—was arrested Friday morning after a five-day manhunt.
The 43-year-old homeless man was last seen Jan. 4 at his makeshift tarp shelter in San Martin, just a half-mile from the victim’s home and just two days after the Sheriff’s Office had to release him because the DA deemed the case too difficult to prosecute.
The victim, whose name is being withheld being withheld to protect her privacy, began crying when she found out about the suspect’s capture. “Oh my God,” she said, pausing to catch her breath between sobs. “Oh my God, what a relief.”
Her husband, hearing the news for the first time, said he’s happy to hear that the suspect is off the streets. “I can’t believe it,” he said in a phone call minutes after the arrest. “I was just saying this morning, every time my phone rings I’m just waiting to get this call.”
The Sheriff’s Office, which has jurisdiction over the case because the alleged crime took place in unincorporated South County, began canvassing local homeless encampments on Monday as soon as the DA filed a rape charge. San Jose police spotted Bobian Thursday at Highway 101 and Hellyer Road and, recognizing his face from news reports, alerted the Sheriff’s Office. The two agencies made the arrest at about 10am Feb. 8. The arrest was first reported by San Jose Inside.
Bobian was escorted out of the Sheriff’s Office headquarters on West Younger Avenue in San Jose shortly before noon today. Wearing a tan shirt, matching pants and shackles on his wrists, he averted his eyes down as officers clad in bulletproof vests guided him from the main entrance of the building to a patrol car waiting at the curb as reporters looked on.
Sheriff Laurie Smith held a small press conference after the suspect left in which she applauded her officers and SJPD for re-arresting Bobian. She also said she believes the charges should have been filed a lot sooner because the case was thoroughly investigated when she first referred it to the DA in early January.
Through a spokesman, DA Jeff Rosen announced that Bobian will be arraigned at 1:30pm Wednesday, Feb. 13. If convicted, he faces up to eight years in prison.
“We would like to thank the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office for their thorough investigation,” the DA said in a prepared statement, “and the San Jose Police Department for making today’s arrest.”
The first order of business was to draw Bobian’s blood, which happened at the Sheriff’s Office HQ within a couple hours of the arrest.
Because a Valley Medical Center phlebotomist failed to collect a sufficient blood sample when they had him in custody Jan. 3, they couldn’t test him for HIV status. And because the disease takes time to manifest upon transmission, the victim had no way of knowing if she contracted the incurable immunodeficiency virus.
The only thing she could do, doctors told her, was to refrain from all physical intimacy for at least six months—just to be safe. “So now what we need is that guy’s blood,” the husband said. “If that gets cleared up, that’s a huge part of it right there that will give us the relief we really need right now.”
News of the arrest lifted a huge weight off his shoulders, the victim’s husband said.
“The fact that they got him and have charges against him is such a relief,” he added. “At least, we’re headed in the right direction of getting her some justice.”
Smith said the ordeal this week has inspired her to create an office of victim services within the Sheriff’s Office. The DA has its own such unit, but Smith said she will ask the county to fund a counterpart under her purview.
She closed her presser Feb. 8 with a message for people like the victim in San Martin: “Victims of sexual assault, we will walk with you.”