CASSELBERRY, Fla. – The man accused of raping a woman then kidnapping her and her friend during a home invasion told his father that he had done something bad before he left Tallahassee and came to the Central Florida area, according to officials from the Casselberry Police Department.
Capt. Brenda Brandenberger said Benjamin Hovan, 32, was arrested Thursday morning in Titusville after an officer there noticed him acting suspiciously at a gas station and decided to run the license plate number on the vehicle he was in, which turned up as being reported stolen out of Miami.
South Miami police told CBS Miami that their investigators obtained surveillance images of Hovan on Wednesday in a neighborhood where a 62-year-old retired doctor was pistol-whipped and her car was stolen.
South Miami police said Hovan was found with that vehicle when he was arrested in Titusville.
The victim's daughter said her mother is undergoing chemotherapy for her cancer.
"I'm sure she was terrified. She doesn't even weigh 95 pounds. She's a frail woman. She's sick," the victim's daughter told WFOR.
While exact details of the circumstances surrounding Hovan's arrest haven't been released, Titusville police said he resisted arrest and was hit with a stun gun as a result.
“I’d say we are very happy and just very joyful that the community can now feel safe," Brandenberger said.
The arrest comes less than 24 hours after police identified Hovan as the man suspected of forcing his way into a unit at Stonecastle Apartments on Saturday, holding the two women inside at knifepoint, raping one of them and then forcing them to drive him to a Publix in Maitland to get cash from an ATM.
Brandenberger said investigators are still trying to determine Hovan's exact whereabouts in the past week. She said that he is originally from the Tallahassee area but recently left and came to Central Florida. It's unclear why he came to the region or how exactly he got here.
“We know, that according to his father, that (Hovan) met with him and left that area and told his dad he needed gas money and he did something bad," Brandenberger said.
Hovan's parents also reportedly told authorities they believe their son was suffering from some sort of mental health issues, although he had no official diagnosis.
After the rape and home invasion on Saturday, police said Hovan stole one of the victims' 2006 Toyota Matrix. At some point, that vehicle was left in a parking lot in Maitland where it was found Tuesday.
Police said they believe Hovan stole a vehicle in Maitland on Sunday, but they are still trying to connect him to the case. They also said that since then, Hovan went down to Miami where he stole the vehicle he was in when he was arrested and had made his way back to Central Florida, where he was arrested.
Brandenberger said it's possible that Hovan could be connected to other cases as well.
“He’d traveled a very large distance and was just committing any crime he could,” Brandenberger said.
Authorities from Casselberry, Miami and Titusville were expected to interview Hovan before he is booked into the Brevard County Jail. He will eventually be extradited to Seminole County.
In the Casselberry case, Hovan is facing charges of home invasion, sexual battery and kidnapping.