Bad Breath Rapist’s life on the run: Man arrested after 16 years

These are the anguished words of a woman whose life was turned upside down in a disturbing way this week when her long-time boyfriend was left in handcuffs.

Detectives in the Californian city of Danville, 40 kilometers east of San Francisco, had just informed her that the man she was living with and falling in love with was a convicted sex offender known as the “Bad Breath Rapist.”

Tuen Kit Lee, 55, was not the man he claimed to be. His secret double life, which included a 10-year relationship with the flower shop owner’s girlfriend, had just come to an end.

His alias had hidden the truth for 16 years: In 2005, he had broken into the home of a waitress who worked in his family’s restaurant in Boston, threatened her with a knife, tied her hands with cable ties and brutally raped her.

He was wearing a ski mask, but his victim was able to identify him because she recognized the smell of her boss’s horrible bad breath.

DNA evidence also linked him to the crime.

Lee was charged with rape and released on bail before his trial, but he fled before his trial reached closing arguments in 2007. The jury returned a guilty verdict in his absence.

Chris Tamayo, a senior inspector with the US Marshals Service in Northern California, has since recounted the difficult conversation officers had with the rapist’s girlfriend at the side of the road.

“It can’t be him, he’s a good man,” she told investigators.

Then a Massachusetts State Police investigator who had been tracking her boyfriend across the country showed her a wanted poster with Lee’s photo on it.

“She burst into tears,” Mr Tamayo said. “She was in complete shock. I feel for her. Her life was completely turned upside down. She had no idea who he was.”

He said the couple met when Lee first fled to New York before boarding a bus to San Francisco. It was on the bus ride that the two crossed paths.

They lived together in Diablo, east of San Francisco, but never married.

According to police, Lee stayed under the radar because he “put everything they had in their name.”

Her life in the affluent California community went unnoticed, although Lee appeared in an episode of America’s Most Wanted.

The investigation reached a breakthrough when Lee contacted family members back home.

Quincy Police Captain Daniel Guarente said they “received information that he was in California and may have been in contact with family members. Based on that information, they began to investigate and were able to locate him in California.”

They used phone records to track him to Diablo and placed surveillance on a house where the couple had lived.

They followed their vehicle, stopped them and arrested Mr Lee. He initially denied being the man they were looking for, but later confessed. A fingerprint test confirmed they had their man after nearly two decades.

“His partner did not know who he really was, despite their 15-year relationship in California,” police said.

Lee was transported to the Danville Police Department for booking and is pending extradition to Massachusetts.

“There are violent criminals who believe they can commit crimes without being held accountable for their actions,” said Chief Inspector Sean LoPiccolo, head of the U.S. Marshals Service’s Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force.

“Tuen Lee was on the run for more than 16 years and the tireless efforts of law enforcement to find and arrest him will hopefully bring peace of mind to the victim and her family,” he added.

Lee now faces a life sentence.

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