A teardrop tattoo linked Luis Vargas to three rapes committed across the state of California. He was convicted and sent to prison in 1999, and sentenced to 55 years behind bars. Despite this, Vargas has always claimed innocence in the crimes.
Now, after spending 16 years in prison, Vargas has finally been exonerated and justice has been served. DNA evidence has linked the crimes to a notorious serial rapist who is on the FBI’s ‘Most Wanted’ list.
The Teardrop Rapist’s DNA is linked to at least 11 other sexual assaults, and may be behind as many as 35 in total. In light of recent DNA results in Vargas’ case, a Los Angeles judge has ordered his case dismissed and has had Vargas released after spending more than a decade behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit.
He teared up in court, and photographers captured the emotional moment the innocent man was finally exonerated in court.
Vargas was initially linked to the crimes because he also has a teardrop tattoo similar to that of the Teardrop Rapist.
Vargas’ case was first taken up in 2012 by lawyers and students from the Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to researching the cases of those who claim to have been wrongly convicted.
Vargas was taken back into custody for immigration issues, but sent a message to his family through his lawyers to say he would be home soon.
Vargas’ daughter, Crystal Nunez-Vargas, was only 10-years-old when her father was taken into custody. Now she is married and has a seven-year-old daughter, but said she has waited all these years to have her church wedding so her father could be there.
“I’m waiting for him to come home so I can do my big church wedding and be able to have him walk me down the aisle, which is every little girl’s dream” said Nunez-Vargas, who got legally married but decided to wait for the ceremony itself. “I can’t wait for that.”