Deputies try to ID girl who may have been target of Volusia sex offender

Walter Hernandez, 62-year-old with criminal history, in jail on stalking charges

VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. – Authorities are asking a potential victim of a man accused of stalking women in Volusia and Seminole counties to come forward.

Volusia County deputies said they have been investigating a seperate report of suspicious activity they believe may be connected to the stalking cases 62-year-old Walter Hernandez, of Sanford, was charged in connection with last month.

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Deputies said they were called to the area of Wisteria Drive and West Highbanks Road around 3 p.m. Jan. 11 after a woman said she saw a man in a small, black Honda following a girl who appeared to be about 13 years old riding her bicycle. According to the Sheriff's Office, the description of the man in the bicycle incident matched that of Hernandez.

The woman who reported the incident told authorities the man kept telling the girl to get in his car because her mother had sent him to pick her up, deputies said. The girl told him she knew he was lying because she'd never seen him before and left the scene scared, the woman told deputies.

Hernandez was arrested that night on charges of stalking a woman who was jogging in DeBary.

Since then, investigators said they have been working to identify the girl, who was described as white with red hair and riding a large pink bike, deputies said.

Other reports of similar incidents were made around the same time, authorities said.

A man driving a Honda Fit made unwanted sexual comments to a woman on East Fourth Street in Sanford, police said.

A similar incident occurred in Orange City, allegedly involving the same man. The victim in that case was able to take several photographs of his vehicle, police said.

In addition to the charge of stalking the woman in DeBary, on Jan. 24, DeLand police charged Hernandez with aggravated stalking of a minor under the age of 16 in a case that stemmed from a Jan. 7 report when a girl said a stranger followed her as she walked home from her bus stop, Volusia County deputies said. 

Hernandez has a criminal history that includes previous charges of kidnapping, stalking and indecent exposure, deputies said. He was also previously registered as a sex offender.

According to Florida Department of Corrections records, Hernandez was sentenced in 2008 for following a victim and trying to grab her. Last year, a minor reported she was followed by Hernandez and authorities found ropes, numerous unused condoms and seats removed from his van, records show.

Hernandez is being held without bond at the Volusia County Jail on his charge of stalking in Volusia, his DeLand charge of aggravated stalking of a minor, a charge of resisting arrest without violence in Sanford and an Orange County warrant for violation of probation, Volusia deputies said.

Anyone with information that may help identify the potential juvenile victim on the bike in the DeBary incident is asked to call the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office at 386-668-3830 or email Detective Cox at mcox@vcso.us.

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