When he was 22 years old, Jeremy Ryan Stutzman attacked a young Escondido housewife in her apartment. He bound and gagged her and forced her to dress in lingerie that he provided. His sexual assault went on for six hours.
That woman survived to testify against him. “I just kept telling him to leave and that I won’t call the police if he just left. We’d forget about it. The entire day, I said, ‘Just leave.’” She said that as the hours passed, he got “meaner.” He put a dog collar on her and pulled her with a chain.
“He said that he was tired of me talking and it’s time for me to shut up. That’s when I saw — the chair was in the middle of the room.” He tied her to the chair.
“He had put the knife to my throat and said that he didn’t want me to make any noises or cry. He said something to the effect of ‘I hate when they cry.’” She said she cried.
At the end of that long day, Stutzman walked his victim to his car, which was parked nearby. “Outside the door, he asked if I was going to tell my brother what went on, and I told him no.” She said she had met her attacker through her brother, who had bought marijuana from him, but she never heard his name — he was introduced to her as “Junior.”
The housewife persuaded her attacker to leave while they stood next to his car. “I told him that I wasn’t going to call the cops. And he apologized and shook my hand and said that he would call my brother later that evening.”
But she did talk to police, and she testified in court, and Jeremy Ryan Stutzman got ten years in prison. That was in 2000.
Twice as Much Assault
When Stutzman got out of prison after his ten-year stint plus time served for probation violations, he was ready for twice as much assault.
Stutzman was 33 years old in 2011 when he kidnapped and raped two women living upstairs from him in a Vista apartment complex. He had been living in the complex five months, and he knew the women upstairs were packing to move out that day. He bought a coffee table from 22-year-old Nicole, paying cash. Nicole offered him a beer. Then she and her roommate, 19-year-old Kim, smoked marijuana with him. Nicole said she had a medical marijuana card. “I told her that her marijuana is pretty much garbage,” Stutzman later said. He said he knew where they could get something better, and Kim borrowed Nicole’s car to go there.
The kidnap and assaults began after Stutzman and Kim got into the car. Both women ended up in Stutzman’s apartment, where they were bound and gagged and blindfolded. He took turns assaulting each woman.
The attack in 2011 was similar to his 2000 attack. Stutzman forced his victims to change into clothing that he provided, and he tied them to a chair and used a dog collar, which he pulled with a leash.
He threatened the women with a knife. “It was a large, like, hunting knife,” Kim said later. “He just kept telling us to be quiet or he was going to kill us.” She said he “seemed angry” when they cried. “All night, he kept saying, ‘Shut up, stop making noise, do what I say or I’ll kill you.’”
After two hours of abuse, the blindfolded women heard Stutzman going back and forth to their apartment. He was gathering up their cell phones and purses and other items. Then he hogtied and gagged Nicole and left her on a bed while he walked Kim out to the car in the parking lot. But Nicole struggled out of her bindings and ran for help.
When Stutzman discovered that Nicole had escaped, he and Kim drove away in Nicole’s car, with Kim at the wheel. They wandered all over San Diego County. The seemingly aimless driving went on for more than ten hours. Later, Kim told investigators, “He said I was leverage to Nicole.”
The convicted rapist cut the GPS bracelet off his leg and threw it out the window. He called his parole officer and had Kim explain that it was all just a “misunderstanding.” Twenty-four hours after his assault began, Stutzman released Kim near the Vista apartment complex. She later said, “He told me I better lie to the cops; otherwise, he would hunt me down and kill me.”
During his trial a year later, Stutzman took the witness box to speak directly to the jury. He claimed the sexual encounter with the two women was consensual. He said an awkward moment occurred when the women wanted to take off his pants because “I don’t feel like explaining to two girls why I have an ankle monitor on.” He complained, “If you have an ankle monitor, everyone just assumes you’re a sex offender.”
Stutzman said he took Kim to the parking lot out of consideration for Nicole. He explained, “I’m more interested in her friend.” He claimed the girls were getting jealous of each other. He said that when Nicole ran out the door yelling “rape,” his reaction was, “I got to get the hell out of there,” because he had a previous assault conviction. Kim, he said, generously offered to drive him. Stutzman denied that he had Kim at knifepoint during the hours of driving around that night. He said the night wore on because he had to wait until Kim was “ready to give up the car.” He needed time to get a lawyer and meet with his parole agent, he said.
Stutzman, now 34, was found guilty of rape and kidnap and ten other felonies in April 2012.
Neither Kim nor Nicole attended the sentencing hearing, but both their mothers did. On September 12, superior court judge Richard Mills ordered Stutzman to serve 417 years to life in prison. ■