A WOMAN who disappeared as a teenager a decade ago was reunited with her family after she went to police and told them her mother’s ex-boyfriend drugged and kidnapped her in 2004, forced her to marry him and fathered her child.
Isidro Garcia (41) was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping for rape, lewd acts with a minor and false imprisonment, the California’s Santa Ana Police Department police said.
Police described a decade during which the victim — abused mentally, physically and sexually by her captor — was moved at least four times and given multiple fake identities to hide her from family and authorities.
Garcia allegedly told her that her family had stopped trying to find her, and that if she tried to contact them they would be deported.
“Even with the opportunity to escape, after years of physical and mental abuse, the victim saw no way out of her situation and lived a life with Garcia under sustained physical and mental abuse,” police said in a written statement.
Neighbours were stunned, describing them as a seemingly happy couple who doted on their young daughter and liked to host parties at their apartment in the working-class community of Bell Gardens, about 20 miles from where she originally disappeared.
“He treats her like a queen. He does his best to do whatever she wants,” next-door-neighbour Maria Sanchez said.
The now-25-year-old woman, whose identity is not being released, first contacted authorities on Monday — the same day Garcia was first arrested. Police said she came forward to police after finding her sister on Facebook.
Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna (inset right) said his department’s investigation concluded the following:
The girl arrived from Mexico in February 2004 to join her mother and sister in Santa Ana, about 30 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles. She had entered the United States illegally and spoke no English.
Garcia was her mother’s boyfriend. After one fight between the girl’s mother and Garcia in August 2004, the girl’s mother left the house and the girl went to a nearby park.
He followed the girl. When he caught up with her, she said she had a headache and wanted to go home. Garcia began threatening the girl and gave her five pills that he said would help her headache but instead knocked her out.
When the girl awoke, she was locked in a garage in Compton, a city between Santa Ana and Los Angeles.
The mother “filed a police report and for 10 years [police] did due diligence. But they were changing their names and dates of birth and physical locations so that made it exceedingly difficult,” Bertagna said.
In 2007, Garcia got documents from Mexico that gave the girl a new name and date of birth. He married her at a courthouse, and fathered a girl with her in 2012.
Garcia secured two jobs for them on a night cleaning crew so he could keep watch over her. She tried to escape twice but was severely beaten.
Recently, she found her sister on Facebook and they started to communicate. She learned that her mother had indeed tried to find her, going to a Spanish-language television station and newspaper in 2004.
She started reflecting on her own child’s situation and realised she needed to leave, Bertagna said.
On Monday, she reported that she was a victim of domestic abuse. She also told them of her abduction.
On Tuesday, Santa Ana police arrested him on the kidnapping and other charges, and also interviewed him. Garcia was expected to be arraigned today.
Neighbours said they knew the suspect as Tomas Medrano, and described him as a devoted family man who worked hard to provide for his wife and daughter (3).
The couple attended church a block away, and they were known for parties where they would hire mascots and hold a raffle for children in the neighbourhood.