Palo Alto kidnap case called 'very violent'

Lionel Blanks Jr. of Santa Clara is alleged to have brutally attacked woman on May 22 in Palo Alto

The kidnap and rape of a woman who had parked her car on El Camino Real in Palo Alto last Saturday (May 22) is being described by the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office as particularly violent and brutal.

Lionel Blanks Jr., 36, of Santa Clara, appeared in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose Friday afternoon as he was formally charged with rape by force, penetration with a foreign object, kidnapping, attempted murder, carjacking, second-degree robbery and threats to commit a crime resulting in death or great bodily injury.

Blanks, who is 6 feet tall and weighs 200 pounds, according to court papers, was heavily shackled. His face swollen and with one eye closed shut from a beating his family says he received at the hands of police.

Blanks was briefly brought out of a room adjacent to the court and stood apart from other persons being arraigned, looking dazed.

"Love you, brother," a relative called out as he was led from the court room and other relatives wept.

He faces a 50-years-to-life sentence plus 12 years and 4 months if convicted, according to Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Erin West.

The attack against the woman, who is not a Palo Alto resident and not homeless, was a "very violent crime," West said.

In the early hours of May 22, the victim parked her Mercedes Benz SUV under a bright street light on El Camino Real a short distance from Serra Street, according to the victim's statement to police.

She climbed into her passenger seat where she went to sleep. She awoke to feeling cold air and glass pieces shattered on the seat.

Blanks allegedly pulled her out of the vehicle by her neck and began punching her in the face. The victim's head hit the curb as he punched her and she blacked out intermittently, according to a report by the Palo Alto Police Department.

Blanks allegedly bound both of her wrists and blindfolded the woman. He put her on the floor of the back seat of her car, behind the driver's seat, and then drove around for 20 minutes, she told police.

He asked if she had any money, she said. He told her he had a weapon and that he would kill her.

At one point, the victim said, he exited the freeway, got out of the car and began wiping down the car inside and out with wet wipes the victim had in her car. He then got back in the car and drove about 5 minutes to Westwood Elementary School in Santa Clara.

Blanks lives with his girlfriend and children on North Winchester Boulevard less than a mile from the school, according to the police report.

Blanks allegedly pulled the victim from the car and beat her in the face. He bound her wrists again and dragged her to the rear of a portable building, the report stated. After more beating, the victim's head to hit the ground.

Blanks allegedly tore off the woman's clothes and, despite her struggling and pleas, raped her, according to the report. He then began choking the woman, who told the police she thought she was going to die.

However, her attacker got up and began running through the grass. The victim said she could hear the jingling of her car keys in his pocket. She then got up and ran in the opposite direction from the suspect.

Out on the street, she flagged down a passing car, according to the report. The passerby called 911 at about 5:23 a.m.

The woman sustained multiple lacerations, including to her head, arms, wrists, hands and elbows, and required stitches on her knees. She had a black eye and bruising to her face and buttocks, genital injuries and severe neck bruising and swelling and loss of consciousness, according to the police report.

DNA evidence taken from the victim electronically matched a DNA profile from Blanks, according to the report.

Blanks was arrested on Wednesday (May 26) at about 4:30 p.m. as he was leaving his residence and allegedly ran from police.

Outside the court room, his mother became emotional and accused police of beating her son as he lay on the ground.

"Did you see his face? The police said he was resisting arrest but they didn't charge him with that," she said.

She also said Blanks was not receiving pain medication he needs.

"He has not been proven guilty. They're treating him like an animal," she said.

Lt. Phil Cooke, spokesman for the Santa Clara Police Department, said Blanks spotted a detective when police arrived to make an arrest and started running through back yards and over fences. He was found hiding in a cemetery near his home.

Six officers tried to take him into custody but "he fought hard not to go to jail," Cooke said.

Blanks kicked at police and officers deployed a Taser twice before subuing him. He sustained his injuries during the struggle and some officers also received minor injuries, Cooke said.

"Santa Clara Police Department does not condone excessive force. He was a violent offender violently resisting and it took force to subdue him. In this case, force was needed. Everything was within our policy," he said.

Blanks described his occupation as a self-employed research assistant in a 2006 drunk-driving arrest report. He listed his occupation as a construction iron worker on his Facebook page. He has four children, according to GeeGee Franklin, mother of one of his kids.

"He's a very good father," she said.

He was born in Redwood City and previously lived in Mountain View.

Blanks will return to court to enter a plea on Thursday (June 3). He is being held without bail in Santa Clara County Jail, and the judge has issued a protective order.


Like this comment
Posted by too graphic
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on May 28, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Did you really have to print such a graphic description of this crime? I'm sure the victim would like a little privacy right now.

Like this comment
Posted by Tim
a resident of Downtown North
on May 28, 2010 at 6:37 pm

"They're treating him like an animal," she said........

Ummmm. Weeelllllll...ummmmm..........

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 28, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Time to bring back the Little Lindbergh Law. Warren was an idiot.

Like this comment
Posted by Glad
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 28, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Glad they printed it after all the ignorant comments on the prior article

Like this comment
Posted by Anon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on May 28, 2010 at 7:29 pm

Kind of makes one wonder what this creep has been up to with the rest of his useless life?

It is really upsetting to hear about people like this, and very sad and tragic for those who they run into.


Like this comment
Posted by Gerald
a resident of Atherton
on May 28, 2010 at 8:05 pm

It's fairly obvious where this man learned his life's lessons, it's too bad they can't arrest his mother too.

Like this comment
Posted by ...
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 28, 2010 at 8:19 pm

very hurts my heart to know this woman went through this.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 28, 2010 at 11:34 pm

I hope the victim didn't read this not very well written story. I am glad about its graphic content because it's a stark, important reminder of why this person is being charged with all these particular counts. It's a gruesome crime, truly evil and heinous.

Now I have some banal questions: If he's such a good father, what was he doing out in the middle of the night? Why wasn't he home w/all of his kids? Did he just happen to be walking by, saw the woman sleeping in an expensive vehicle and decided to rob her, carjack her vehicle and rape her? Of course not - answering my own question - he planned it, on some level, and he may have committed other crimes besides the DUI, working his way up to it. Do DUI perps have anything kept on file for later DNA comparison?

I'm glad at least this guy had a DNA profile so that he was matched and arrested. How can his family be in denial about the DNA outcome ?

Like this comment
Posted by M
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 29, 2010 at 3:04 am

How does someone commit all those crimes and is only looking at a 50 years to life sentence? It should be two life terms.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Ohlone School
on May 29, 2010 at 9:15 am

M -- 50 to life is actually a long, indeterminate sentence. First degree murder is 25 to life, and most inmates sentenced to 25 to life are doing more than 25 actual years under the current parole board.

Relatives always support the accused. It is a natural and almost instinctual reaction, despite what we might think WE would do in that situation. Relatives cannot mentally process the thought that their son/brother/friend etc. could have done this, and therefore they feel righteous in standing up for the accused.

Thank goodness for the state's DNA database.

Like this comment
Posted by mas citizen
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on May 29, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Good work for PD. Now his mother is a pierce of work as well ! She is claiming police brutality, but about the victim ? What about her
brutal beating, that's ok ! Her son I am sure fell while trying to out run the cops, so thats where the scratches came from ! If he is such a good father, how come so many kids with different mothers ?
Is he paying child support or are we as a society ? So please don't tell me he is a good father !! He deserves the maxium sentence, then he will become someone else's girl friend !

Like this comment
Posted by Blair
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 29, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Mr. Blanks' family is so quick to point out the alleged injustice he received at the hands of the police, while seemingly ignoring the horrific crime of which he has been accused of. Some nerve. I am willing to reserve judgment on Mr. Blanks until the justice system has been played out. I urge Mr. Blanks' family to do the same, and show some respect for the victim in this case regardless of the outcome.

Like this comment
Posted by wow
a resident of Esther Clark Park
on May 29, 2010 at 1:24 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by anhy
a resident of College Terrace
on May 29, 2010 at 2:02 pm

police are not supposed to beat someone. they often lie about ''suspects'' they lied about other non white people who can testify that there was no evidence a ''crime'' happened. just a cops ''word''. black people, it is time to put and end to this. this is what the civil rights era said, in the streets, march to palo alto from all around the world. put it on the map .it is time, just like in arizona, time for life!

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 29, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

People do not, voluntarily, submit to police custody when they know it means loss of freedom. They fight until the possibility of escaping is exhausted.

Like this comment
Posted by ugjtcjfvb
a resident of Barron Park
on May 29, 2010 at 3:21 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by Ed
a resident of South of Midtown
on May 29, 2010 at 3:35 pm

How does his mother know everything, this guy deserves everything he got and everything he is going to get.

Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on May 29, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Bravo to the police who were obviously facing an extremely violent criminal. And it is not Blanks who deserves our concern, but the victim.

Like this comment
Posted by Truth be told
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 29, 2010 at 7:11 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by Ugand
a resident of Barron Park
on May 29, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Whites allowed repression of black spirit so it has to come out somewhere. It is universal law. Stop harassing blacks the world will adjust. It may be too late anyway. The oil cannot be stopped

Like this comment
Posted by Blair
a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 29, 2010 at 11:03 pm

Ugand, enough with the excuses, rationalizing, and pointing fingers. If this man is guilty of this crime, he has no one to blame but himself. People making excuses for others simply perpetuates their behavior. There is a human expectation to be law-abiding, respectful of other people and their property, value education, exhibit a strong ethic, and reject the negative temptations (ie: substance abuse, drugs, and gangs). There is no justification for what you suggest.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2010 at 7:53 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Ugand, it isn't Black Spirit, it is Black under-culture. Whites have the equivalent, Skinheads, and Germans have their Halbstarks. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Like this comment
Posted by Chrisc
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 1, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Chrisc is a registered user.

I am in awe of the amazing and quick police work that enabled their speedy arrest of this guy. It gives me a lot of faith in our beleaguered and understaffed police department. My thanks to them.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


To post your comment, please login or register at the top of the page. This topic is only for those who have signed up to participate by providing their email address and establishing a screen name.

QBB opens in Mountain View
By Elena Kadvany | 10 comments | 3,177 views

By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 963 views

Become a Master Gardener - Deadline Sept 21
By Laura Stec | 2 comments | 943 views

One more year
By Cheryl Bac | 2 comments | 366 views


Registration now open

Sign up for the 33rd annual Palo Alto Weekly Moonlight Run and Walk. This family-friendly event which benefits local nonprofits serving kids and families will take place on Friday, Oct. 6 at the Palo Alto Baylands.

Register Here