A woman who was kidnapped by her mother’s boyfriend 10 years ago, forced to marry him and have his child is finally with her family after being found by California authorities.
The victim, who has not been named, was kidnapped in 2004 at the age of 15 by Isidro Garcia and locked in a garage to prevent her from fleeing. Garcia reportedly told the girl that her family had given up the search for her, and that if she tried to return to them, her family would be deported.
She was finally rescued after finding her sister on Facebook.
According to the Associated Press:
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.
Garcia 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.
“He told her then, ‘You can’t go home. You’re here illegally, you don’t speak the language, your mom’s called the police, they will send you back. I’m your only hope,’” Bertagna said.
Garcia 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.
Garcia also falsified documents for the girl. In 2007, he gave the girl a new name and date of birth. Using those documents, he married her at a courthouse. Police said their daughter was born in 2012.
The two moved around often and police said the victim may have had many chances to escape. But years of physical and mental abuse may have stopped her.
Neighbors, stunned after learning that Garcia kidnapped his wife, spoke out about their relationship.
“He treats her like a queen. He does his best to do whatever she wants,” next-door neighbor Maria Sanchez said in Spanish on Wednesday after police announced Garcia’s arrest.
Neighbors said Garcia always said hello, joked with neighbors and sometimes brought them fruit. His wife worked for a nearby janitorial service and he held at least two jobs — including one making egg rolls — and also collected cardboard and recyclable items to sell.
Garcia said he wanted to save money so that his wife didn’t have to work, said Lourdes Hernandez, who babysat their child for a year.
The family threw elaborate parties that included costumed characters and raffle giveaways. A video shot at their daughter’s birthday party last year shows the mother with the girl in her arms, line-dancing behind her husband as he wiggles his hips.
Garcia, was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping for rape, lewd acts with a minor and false imprisonment, the Santa Ana Police Department said.