Cotati man suspected in series of incidents against female drivers over past 5 months

A Marin County chef arrested at his Cotati home late Tuesday night is believed to be the man responsible for a series of assaults and attempted assaults on rural Sonoma County roads over the past five months, the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department said.

Thomas Boccaleoni, 44, was being held in the Sonoma County Jail without bail because he remains on probation for similar offenses in San Francisco four years ago, authorities said.

Detectives plan to investigate him in connection with 13 incidents reported on mostly rural roadways since November. He was arrested about 11:15 p.m. Tuesday in connection with two of those cases, sheriff's Lt. Chris Spallino said.

He said authorities anticipated additional charges, but "wanted to get him off the streets as soon as possible."

Katie Black, a Bennett Valley woman who was aggressively followed this month by a man who she said tried to push her off the roadway, was "elated" by the arrest.

"I can't wait to announce it as I go to this rural Sebastopol house tonight for book club," she said Wednesday evening. "A lot of women there are really terrified."

Others expressed similar sentiments.

"Oh my gosh, that is such good news," said Calistoga Road resident Jan Montelli. "Some people don't go to Santa Rosa by themselves anymore, or if they can't get home before dark they don't go. A lot of people were really afraid."

Boccaleoni has been under surveillance for about a week, after tipsters said he resembled a composite drawing of the assailant and law enforcement officials learned of his criminal past, Spallino said.

His photo also has been identified by two of his alleged victims, including one who fought off a man on Sexton Road outside Sebastopol on April 18 after he tried to pull her out of her car, grabbing her by the neck.

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