Man accused of kidnapping, raping four women in 2020 in Jeffco sentenced to 162 years to life

A man convicted of kidnapping four women from the metro area and sexually assaulting them in the foothills west of Denver in 2020 has been sentenced to 162 years to life in prison.

Joseph Gabriel Van Eck, 33, was sentenced Friday after a Jefferson County jury in March found him guilty of three counts of sexual assault, two counts of second-degree kidnapping, four counts of soliciting for prostitution, one count of attempted sex assault, one count of unlawful sexual contact and one count of theft.

Prosecutors said Van Eck picked up three of his victims, who were homeless, on West Colfax Avenue in Lakewood. He picked up the fourth woman at an undisclosed location in Denver. Police said Van Eck lured three of his victims into his truck by offering them a ride. One victim, police said, was grabbed and pulled into the truck by her purse.

Once the women were inside the truck, Van Eck drove to a remote area in Jefferson County where he assaulted them physically and sexually, and threatened to kill them. Van Eck was armed with a knife and a gun on more than one occasion, police said.

The first woman to report her kidnapping to authorities did so on April 19, 2020. Three additional women reported similar experiences in August and September 2020. Van Eck was identified and arrested on Sept. 18, 2020, following a joint investigation by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Lakewood Police Department.

At Friday’s sentencing, one of the victims addressed the court, stating, “Because of him, I’m scared of everybody. He terrified me beyond belief.”

Chief Deputy District Attorney Tyra Forbes said in a statement that Van Eck “hunted” women who were living on the streets.

“Kidnapping them, threatening them, beating them, driving them to a deserted trailhead in the middle of the night, brutally raping them, and then dumping them on the side of Interstate 70 — that level of depravity deserves the maximum sentence allowed by law,” she said.

Van Eck was also found to be a sexually violent predator and is subject to lifetime parole for his crimes.

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