79ºF

Suspect identified in Casselberry rape, home invasion

Police urge public to be on the lookout

CASSELBERRY, Fla. – UPDATE: The wanted man accused in a rape and kidnapping case in Casselberry last weekend was arrested in Titusville, according to authorities. Click here to read the full story.

PREVIOUS STORY:

Casselberry police on Wednesday identified a man accused of raping a women during a home invasion on Saturday, then kidnapping her and a friend.

Police Chief Larry Krantz said that fingerprints helped them identify the suspect as 32-year-old Benjamin Hovan, who is from Tallahassee.

"We consider him to be armed and dangerous. He committed a heinous act against two young ladies in our community. I have no reason to doubt that he may not try to do that again. Maybe he won't, but we're going to operate under the belief that he could, so we want to capture him as quickly as we can," Krantz said.

Officials said it's unclear why Hovan was in the Central Florida area on Saturday, when police say he forced his way into a unit at Stonecastle Apartments, held the two women inside at knifepoint, raped one of them, then forced them to drive to a Publix in Maitland to withdraw money from an ATM.

[READ: 'I'm afraid for her:' 911 call released in Casselberry rape, kidnapping]

Hovan fled in the victim's 2006 Toyota Matrix, which was found abandoned in Maitland Tuesday morning. Police said Hovan's whereabouts are unknown. Anyone who sees him is urged to call 911 immediately and not approach him.

Krantz said the case is a high priority in his department but help from the public is also essential and could help police make an arrest.

"It's very important. We want everybody to take a really good look at this picture, ingrain it in your brain, put it in your phone so that when you're out and about you and you happen to see someone you can compare it and call (authorities)," Krantz said.

The identification comes hours after police released a computer-generated sketch based on descriptions from the victims. 

"Our victims have been very tough through this whole ordeal in working with us, they've been troopers. They've been very brave in this whole process and have been in communication with us and have worked through this case with us to get to where we are today and we are deeply grateful for them," Krantz said.

He added that both women are doing as well as could be expected considering the trauma that they went through.

Along with that sketch, police also provided Hovan's driver's license photos and surveillance photos from the Tallahassee Police Department that officials say show him peering through the window of a home that he later burglarized.

Hovan is described as 6 feet tall, with light-colored, curly, shoulder-length hair with some facial hair and an average build.

He was wearing a blue baseball hat, a blue long-sleeved shirt and green shorts. His appearance was unkempt and he had no shoes on, which police said could mean that he is homeless.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Casselberry Police Department or Crimeline at 800-423-TIPS (8477). 


About the Author: