Daniel Santucci, the 24-year-old Elsmere man, who New Castle County Police Chief called a ‘Heartless monster’, admitted to kidnapping, raping, and leaving a 4-year-old girl Pike Creek girl in a pond in Banning Park.
Earlier this morning, Friday, August 24, 2018, in Superior Court, Santucci pled guilty to Attempted Murder First Degree, Kidnapping First Degree, and Rape Second Degree.
In April 2017, Santucci lured the child into his car at a community in Pike Creek. Santucci then sexually assaulted the child and threw her in a pond at Banning Park, according to prosecutors.
The child was found walking in the area by a passing motorist. Santucci faces a minimum of 27 years in prison and will also have to register as a Tier 3 sex offender when sentenced by a Superior Court judge in December. Deputy Attorneys General Joseph Grubb and Jan van Amerongen prosecuted the case, with assistance from paralegal Stacey Coupe, social worker Claudia Melton, and support specialist Ted Griffin.
Detectives Tom Purse and Dave DiNardo of the New Castle County Police Department were the Chief Investigating Officers. The victim’s family supports this resolution as it enables justice to be served and protects the young victim from enduring a lengthy trial.
Minquadale – Through a comprehensive investigation which involved federal, state, and local law enforcement spanning from Delaware to Florida, New Castle County Police Detectives have arrested 23-year-old Daniel M. Santucci Jr in connection with the April 6th abduction and sexual assault of a 4-year-old girl from the community of Village of Plum Run, according to New Castle County Police Chief Vaughn Bond.
Bond said that police identified Daniel M. Santucci Jr as a person of interest in this case. During the investigation, detectives located Daniel M. Santucci Jr’s black Honda Civic abandoned in the middle of Centerville Rd with the driver’s door open. Detectives believed that he staged his own disappearance then further discovered that he had fled to Florida on a Grey Hound bus, which violated the conditions of his Delaware probation, said Bond. On April 20th authorities located and arrested Daniel M. Santucci Jr in Tampa, Florida for violation of probation. Daniel M. Santucci Jr was held in Florida until he was extradited to Delaware on May 1st.
Through the investigation, detectives concluded the following: Daniel M. Santucci Jr lured the 4-year-old victim to his car, kidnapped her, sexually assaulted her, and then threw her into the large pond in the rear of Banning Park, where he left her, according to Bond. Detectives have found no evidence indicating that Daniel M. Santucci Jr and the victim knew each other in any way. They further found Daniel M. Santucci Jr in possession of child pornography, said Bond. The child pornography is not related to this victim, added B Detectives obtained a warrant for Daniel M. Santucci Jr, who was being held at Young Correctional Institute for the violation of probation and arrested him for the kidnapping and sexual assault on May 5th.
“I share the feeling of relief with the community and our officers now that this predator is off the street,” said Colonel Vaughn Bond, Jr., chief of police. “I’d like to express my sincere thanks to the citizens who took the time to call in suspicious activity and offered their personal surveillance footage which all proved to be valuable in this investigation. I’d also like to acknowledge and thank our partner law enforcement agencies who played a critical role in this investigation by performing a wide array of tasks which led to this arrest.”
“The people of our county are extremely thankful to New Castle County Police and other law enforcement agencies who worked collaboratively around the clock on this investigation,” said New Castle County Executive Matthew Meyer. “Numerous members of the public also provided invaluable information. Because of this collaborative effort, we are all a little bit safer today.”
Daniel M. Santucci Jr, of the 600 block of New Rd in Wilmington, was charged with first-degree attempted murder, first-degree kidnapping, unlawful sexual contact with a person under 13 years old, and possession of child pornography. He was arraigned and committed to Young Correctional Institution after failing to post $1,076,000 cash-only bail.
Santucci’s home is less than five minutes from the park (Banning Park) where the 4-year-old was found wondering at around 8:45 that night.