Police say 78-year-old alleged kidnapper and rapist could have more victims

May 29, 2024, 8:03 PM | Updated: 8:20 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — After an “elderly” man was arrested and charged Friday with kidnapping and sexual assault, police emphasized Wednesday that there could be other victims. Salt Lake City Police Department encouraged parents to start having age-appropriate conversations with their children to identify if their child was a victim.

The man, Tevita Mounga, 78, was booked on seven felony charges and one misdemeanor after an underage girl reported to police that she had been abducted and sexually assaulted by an elderly man she didn’t know. Charging documents state that the girl, 16, said she was abducted on March 6.

The girl said she had been walking home from school near 500 North and 1000 West with a plate of cupcakes. Mounga allegedly pulled over and motioned to the cupcakes. The girl said she entered the truck under the impression that he wanted one.

Once inside the truck, Mounga physically held her against her will and took her phone away, discarding it out the window, she said. He then drove to an unfamiliar location, where she said the assault took place. After she reported the incident to police, she was questioned by detectives.

“During (the) interview, she became emotional and could not continue speaking with investigators,” the documents state.

More reports lead to arrest

Police then obtained two other reports of an elderly man in a truck enticing young girls on May 10 and May 22. In both instances, the witnesses were able to snap photos of the truck he was in and the license plate.

“The license plate returned to a white Ford F-150 registered by (78)-year-old Tevita Mounga,” the document states.

On Thursday, investigators conducted a follow-up interview with the original victim, who then was able to tell investigators further details about the assault she’d endured.

“After the interview, (the girl) agreed to do a photographic line-up of the possible suspect. (She) identified the photograph of Tevita Mounga as the elderly male suspect,” the document states.

Mounga was charged with aggravated kidnapping, two counts of forcible sodomy, three counts of object rape, one count of aggravated sexual assault, and one count of damage to a communication device.

Communal call to action

Salt Lake City Police Department emphasized detectives believe Mounga may have approached other girls prior to his arrest. The release asked parents to have conversations with their children to identify any other children who might have been asked to get inside his truck.

“That’s a parent’s ultimate fear, to have their child abducted off the street,” said Salt Lake County Attorney Sim Gill. “Anybody who engages in this kind of conduct sends a chill through our community. Especially when we are talking about children, who are often walking from school or a neighbors house.”

The release did not specify whether police know of any other attempts Mounga made besides the two in May, and the initial report in March.

SLCPD asked anyone with information about him to call 801-799-3000.

Editors note: Charging documents and press releases from Salt Lake police indicate Mounga’s age inconsistently. Figures in this copy reflect Mounga’s date of birth listed in court records.

Contributing: Dan Rascon, KSL TV

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Police say 78-year-old alleged kidnapper and rapist could have more victims