Lee County man accused of molestation may have more victims, investigators say
Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers is asking for the public’s help identifying additional victims who may have been sexually assaulted at the hands of a Lee County man.
Heriberto Batista Montijo, 42, was arrested May 14 and faces 19 charges that include sexual assault on a victim under 12; child cruelty; lewd and lascivious behavior on a child; and multiple counts of the possession of child pornography.
The Department of Children and Families alerted investigators to Montijo, alleging he was having indecent relationships with very young girls. Montijo is also accused of having a collection of videos depicting children engaged in explicit activity. When Montijo was arrested, detectives discovered a stash of videos on his phone containing child pornography, Crime Stoppers said.
Investigators say Montijo groomed his victims before sexually assaulting them.
“His M.O. is to intimidate and tell these young girls, ‘Don’t say anything to anybody. Trust me. I care for you,’” explained Trish Routte, with Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers. “He doesn’t care for them.”
Detective say Montijo earned his victims’ trust and then recorded the sexual encounters.
Jackie Stephens, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collier County, says the manipulation makes it hard for children to speak up.
“It makes it very difficult for the child to then report abuse because now they have a relationship with this person,” Stephens said. “They care about this person, or it may just be hard to talk about.”
Now, detectives are looking at the possibility that Montijo could have had sexual relationships with other young girls in the community. Detectives are in possession of videos from Montijo in which sexual acts with young girls can be seen, but their faces are not visible. Montijo has resided in Fort Myers and Lehigh in recent months, and at one point worked at a business in Estero which was in close proximity to an elementary school.
Montijo is being held in the Lee County Jail and is facing three capital charges. A conviction could lead to multiple life sentences. He has entered a not guilty plea.
Anyone who may have information on Montijo’s involvement with young girls is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS (8477). All callers will remain anonymous and could be eligible for a cash reward of up to $3,000. Tips may also be made online at www.southwestfloridacrimestoppers.com or on the P3Tips mobile app.
“Our number one priority at this point is finding these victims and getting them the help they need,” Routte said.