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OREM — Police have arrested a man accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl who had been walking by herself to an Orem store to buy shoes.
Ryan David Lucero, 34, a transient, was arrested Thursday by Orem police during an undercover operation.
On Dec. 17, a 13-year-old girl was walking to Walmart in Orem using the pedestrian tunnel on the north side of University Parkway, which connects the Utah Valley University campus. The girl, who had run away from home, was barefoot and going to the store to purchase shoes, according to police.
Before she walked into the tunnel, Lucero came up to the girl and told her, "Hey I'm following you," according to charging documents. Police say Lucero offered to help the girl buy shoes.
After buying shoes, Lucero took the girl to to an apartment complex across the street and to a shed behind an apartment building where he gave the girl drugs and sexually assaulted her, charging documents state.
DNA collected during an examination of the girl matched with Lucero, according to the charges.
On Tuesday, Lucero was charged in 4th District Court with rape of a child, aggravated sexual abuse of a child, and sodomy on a child, all first-degree felonies; and child endangerment, a third-degree felony. A warrant was issued for Lucero's arrest, who had not been seen by his family since August.
Detectives continuing to search for Lucero received information that led them to contact him through Facebook using an undercover account, according to a statement from Orem police.
"David sent photos of himself and sent predatory messages to the undercover account," police said.
On Wednesday, Lucero initiated another conversation on Facebook and said he was in the Orem area. "A meeting was set up with the undercover account and David was seen in the area," police said.
Numerous officers converged on Lucero after spotting him and took him into custody. On Friday, Orem police praised the efforts of their officers in "taking this dangerous individual off the streets."