Man pleads guilty to Durham rape, knife attack that led to Amber Alert for toddler

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A man who authorities say went to a home in Durham and raped the mother of his child, cut her with a knife, and then fled the state with his son pleaded guilty to multiple charges this week, according to the Durham County District Attorney’s Office.

Emerson Rivas-Melendez

The case was the subject of an Amber Alert in April 2020.

According to the Durham County District Attorney’s Office, around 1:30 a.m. on April 9, 2020, Emerson Rivas-Melendez, now 23, went to the home of his toddler son’s mother on Myra Street where he demanded sex from her. After raping her, he cut her multiple times with a knife and then took his 2-year-old son and fled the state.

According to the DA’s office, a neighbor of the victim called the police who then located her and took her to the hospital. It was then that the Amber Alert was issued.

Melendez and his son were found around three hours later in Prince George’s County, Maryland – nearly 270 miles away from the home on Myra Street. The DA’s office said they were located after the Federal Bureau of Investigation tracked the cellphone he stole from the victim.

Melendez pleaded guilty this week to charges of second-degree rape, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and child abuse inflicting serious injury.

The DA’s office said that the child was not injured in the ordeal, but “the State pursued the felony charge of child abuse inflicting serious injury to hold Melendez accountable for mental distress inflicted on his son; a doctor evaluated the child and found signs of trauma.”

The plea arrangement agreed between Melendez and the DA’s office was based on the fact that he had no prior criminal history and the victim’s wishes were also taken into consideration.

Melendez was sentenced to serve two consecutive, active sentences: a minimum of 73 months and a maximum of 100 months in prison, followed by a minimum of 25 months and a maximum of 42 months in prison. In addition to prison time, he will also be required to register as a sex offender for 30 years.

Melendez was ordered to have no contact with the mother of his child for the rest of his life.

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