GRAHAM COUNTY — A chance meeting of an old acquaintance culminated with an alleged heinous act during the early morning hours of Sept. 1.
Steven Rudy Estrada, 51, was arrested and booked into the Graham County Jail on Sept. 6 on charges of kidnapping and sexual assault.
Even though Estrada’s alleged victim didn’t notify authorities of the incident until three days afterward, she still showed signs of being brutalized, including multiple bruises and contusions to her head, lip, neck, both arms and left leg. The victim said she waited to report the crime because she feared Estrada would make good on his promise to kill her and her family if she spoke about it.
According to the victim, she was inside Walmart at 755 S. 20th Ave. the evening of Aug. 31 to purchase a pump for an air mattress. While there, she bumped into Estrada, who was an old friend of her family but whom she hadn’t seen in 15 years. Estrada told the victim she could have his pump and that she didn’t need to buy one at the store but simply follow him to his house. She agreed and the pair left the store together and traveled to Estrada’s residence south of Safford on 14th Avenue, according to the victim’s statements to police. Authorities later accessed Walmart surveillance footage that matched the victim’s description of events at the store.
Once at his home, Estrada said he first had to go up on Mount Graham and convinced the victim to accompany him before he would give her the pump. During the trip, he started to make advances and threatened her when she didn’t reciprocate, according to the victim. During an interview with officers, Estrada said the victim initiated the sexual advances and he merely agreed and eventually had consensual sex.
When the pair arrived at a campsite at around 3 a.m., Estrada allegedly forced the victim to perform several sexual acts through violence and threats of murder. At one point, he allegedly slammed the victim’s head into the door frame of his white Nissan Titan truck and said, "You better knock it off (expletive deleted); I have already told you that I will knock you in the head and bury you in those trees."
Afterward, Estrada drove the victim back down the mountain and confessed his love for her. He said he hoped he inseminated the victim so they could be husband and wife and raise the child together, according to the victim’s statements. Estrada later denied that report.
A couple of days after the incident, the victim told what happened to a few friends, including a relative of Estrada, who urged her to call the police and report the rape. Upon doing so, she agreed to make a confrontation call to Estrada that was recorded by authorities. In the call, Estrada apologized for threatening the victim and forcing her to have sex even though she verbally told him “no” several times and physically resisted.