Aspiring Actress Charisma Carpenter’s Horrifying Encounter with San Diego Police/Serial Rapist in 1991

By: Aaron Leaf
uaptsd.org

As history has repeatedly shown, none of us are exempt from the brutal and unlawful attacks of Police Officers. Many stories have come to light, including the recent brutal attack on Kelly Thomas by Fullerton Police, the shooting of unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson Mo, and the tasering of 18 year old Israel “Reefa” Hernandez, which led to his death, only caught for tagging on an abandoned McDonalds in Miami.

Charisma Carpenter Photo courtesy of Investigation Discovery

Charisma Carpenter
Photo courtesy of Investigation Discovery

As the list of victims of police misconduct rapidly grows, one story out of San Diego had the whole town in fear of a serial rapist on the loose who attacked couples on the beaches of San Diego, including an then aspiring actress and former San Diego Charger Cheerleader, Charisma Carpenter known for starring in the TV shows; Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.

On August. 15, 1991, three friends arrived at Torrey Pines State Beach in La Jolla to go for a swim. Although Charisma Carpenter, (22), Arthur Gracia, (24), and Aldo Ochoa, (22), had heard about a lone gunman believed to have raped several women along the coast, they were not especially worried. After stripping down to their underwear, Gracia and Ochoa paddled out into the ocean, while Carpenter was changing at a nearby lifeguard tower, she sensed something lurking in the shadows. She screamed.

“Shut the fuck up,” yelled a voice from the dark. Ochoa and Gracia, hearing Charisma’s scream, emerged from the water and ran to Carpenter’s aid. “Sit the fuck down,” ordered the man, and then he ordered Carpenter to tie up Gracia and to bind Ochoa’s hands with his belt. She hesitated as the attacker jammed a pistol to her temple. When she began to whimper, he handed her his heavy-duty flashlight and knelt to do the job himself. Courageously, Arthur Gracia lunged at the gunman. Startled, he shot Gracia in the chest, but Gracia kept hitting. Ochoa jumped in but was shot in the abdomen and wandered off. As Gracia grappled for the gun, it went off a third time, blasting a hole in the attacker’s left hand. The gunman staggered into the night, and the three friends, although traumatized, were able to get to a convenience store in Ochoa’s Jeep and call for help.

hhHenry Hubbard Jr., a 30-year-old “supercop,” was viewed as exactly the kind of officer capable of capturing the rapist who had been terrorizing San Diego for months. A former minor-league baseball player for the San Diego Padres, he starred in a local TV documentary, The Making of a Cop, in 1987. In 4½ years as an officer, he had won commendations.

Patrolling on the 2 p.m. to 1 a.m. shift, He had the ability to “carefully monitor” the investigation of attacks at local beaches. He was virtually the last person the police might have suspected to be the man they were hunting for.

But at 4:30 a.m., Hubbard and his wife, walked into the UCSD Medical Center for treatment of his bloodied hand. His story to doctors was his car had broken down and that he had been jumped by “two or three men.” Investigators grew suspicious when they noticed sand on Hubbard’s clothes. Doctors found bite marks on Hubbard’s back and ear that matched Ochoa’s teeth (undergoing emergency surgery at Scripps Hospital two miles away). The clinching piece of evidence was his police-issue flashlight, his name engraved on it, which Carpenter had brought from the beach. At 2 p.m., Hubbard was arrested and later taken to jail.

After maintaining his innocence for almost a year, Hubbard pleaded guilty to eight violent sexual assaults and two attempted murder charges. He was eventually sentenced to 56 years in prison.

The series of vicious beach attacks began on June 15, 1991. At 3 a.m., a young couple were resting under a blanket at Del Mar Beach, when a masked gunman robbed them and raped the woman at gunpoint. On July 4th the gunman raped a woman at Solana Beach, On July 20, at Windansea Beach, Hubbard had two young girls truss up their older male friend. Then he repeatedly raped the girls, aged 13 and 14. While assaulting the 13-year-old, the attacker said, “Why don’t you get into it a little bit?” Then he asked the 14-year-old if she was a virgin. When she answered yes, he replied, “We’ll change that.” He then attacked her while the two girls cried.

The police grew frustrated as the rapist seemed to anticipate their every move. When cops staked out decoy teams on beaches to the north and south, he would strike in between. Detectives noted that the rapist always followed the same eerie modus operandi. “By forcing the female victim to tie up the male, he gave the initial impression that it was a robbery,” says San Diego Sheriff’s Det. Floyd Feese. “In fact his sole purpose was to destroy the state of mind of (the couple). He did to his victims what a cat would do to a mouse: He played with them, terrorized them.”

In each case, at least one man and one woman were victims and they were either robbed or a robbery was attempted. Women were sexually assaulted in four cases and rape was attempted in a fifth. There were five robberies and two robbery attempts. All of the attacks occurred between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m.

By the time of the grand jury hearing, Hubbard had been identified in six rapes and two rape attempts. Later, DNA samples of semen and blood linked him to another unsolved rape. At first, his lawyers maintained that vindictive cops had set Hubbard up in retribution for testifying against a fellow officer in an excessive-use-of-force case.

But in July, facing more than 200 years in prison if convicted by a jury, he pleaded guilty or no contest to all charges. “Henry never wanted to put the victims on the stand and to have to go through it,” says Hubbard’s lawyer, Kerry L. Steigerwalt. Citing Hubbard’s decision, the judge sentenced him to only 56 years, which may make him eligible for parole in 28 years. “Henry’s a smart man,” said Steigerwalt. “He knew what the prosecution had, and what we had. If he was convicted, he would have died in prison.”

Those who knew Hubbard were dumbfounded. Raised in Lancaster, S.C., the son of a school administrator and a teacher, Hubbard was an over-achiever and was known to be especially kind In women. His police friends in particular were shocked. “There was nothing odd about the person I knew,” says Craig Myrom, Hubbard’s partner for 4½ years. “That’s what’s scary—being able to function in society while still being capable of committing these crimes.”

Hubbard’s wife, Karen, 32, is also one of his victims. “It was emotionally devastating to have someone tell you your husband’s been arrested,” she says. After driving Hubbard to the hospital and finding out he was charged with the rape series on the news, she became physically sick. Since then, Karen has received death threats, declared bankruptcy and seen their 2 year old daughter, become hurt and confused. “He was a great dad,” she says. “Now Samantha wants to know where her daddy is. How can a person you met eight years ago change so much?” asks Karen

Hubbard sat stoically through the sentencing, though when addressing the court, he wept. “I deeply regret that I am responsible for causing such pain,” he said. “I realize that you may never forgive me…. I have no excuses to give you, as the acts are inexcusable.”

The victims, however, were hardly appeased. A “model cop” who was also a vicious rapist has made it difficult, they say, to trust anyone again. One rape victim remains confined to a mental health facility. Charisma Carpenter is still coping with emotional trauma, while Aldo Ochoa still has a bullet lodged in his liver. “He’s a rapist,” said Arthur Gracia, who had a bullet removed from his back. “He deserves to rot in prison.”

Charisma Carpenter has since become a well known actress and is now the host of “Surviving Evil” where she has shared her horrifying story through witness testimonies and reenactments. Watch the Full Episode of “Surviving Evil: Terror Beach” below.

Resources

Police Officer Suspected in Series of Rapes : Crime: A San Diego patrolman is arrested after an early-morning attack and shooting at state beach.

Remembering the terror of a San Diego beach serial rapist more than 20 years ago

Charisma Carpenter, “You can have a good life even after something terrible happens

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