- POSTED: 22 May 2014 09:23
A woman who was allegedly kidnapped a decade ago at age 15, sexually abused and held against her will has been found alive in California, and her suspected captor arrested.
LOS ANGELES: A woman who was allegedly kidnapped a decade ago at age 15, sexually abused and held against her will has been found alive in California, and her suspected captor arrested.
The woman, now 25, was kidnapped in Santa Ana, southeast of Los Angeles, in 2004 by her mother's live-in boyfriend.
She came forward herself, triggering the arrest Tuesday of her alleged kidnapper, identified as 41-year-old Isidro Garcia.
The victim, whose identity was not immediately revealed, had opportunities to escape during the last decade, but "saw no way out of her situation," Santa Ana police said in a statement Wednesday.
In 2007, Garcia allegedly forced her into a marriage and in 2012, they had a child together.
She finally came forward after recently contacting her sister via Facebook, and "eventually gained the courage to contact the police," said the statement.
Garcia -- who lives in Bell Gardens, about 25 miles from Santa Ana in the Los Angeles suburbs -- was booked for kidnapping and rape, lewd acts with a minor and false imprisonment.
The teenager went missing in August 2004 with Garcia.
"Garcia drugged the victim and drove her to a house in Compton," police said, referring to a rough south LA neighbourhood.
Once there, he had false identity documents made for her and "locked her overnight in a garage to prevent the victim from fleeing," the statement added.
"Over the course of the following months and years, Garcia repeatedly told the victim her family had given up looking for her, and if she tried to go back to them, the family would be deported."
They moved several times to avoid police detection.
"Garcia frequently physically and sexually assaulted the victim," police said, adding that he arranged for the pair to work nights for a cleaning service, "so he could keep a close eye on the victim."
"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," it added.
A former neighbour told the LA Times that she had spoken to the victim's mother, shortly before she disappeared.
"I spoke to her mom about God," 54-year-old Silvia Suarez told the newspaper.
"She said she was having problems with her partner. She believed he was romancing her daughter."
Araceli Ochoa, a leasing agent for the apartment complex, said he spoke to the mother after her daughter's disappearance.
"She couldn't understand how her daughter could leave," he told the LA Times.
Ochoa said he was happy for the mother.
"I am very excited that they found her. But it's still a tragedy that she has to live with every day now," he said. "Each day with him probably felt like 100 years to her."
The case recalls that of three young women held captive for a decade in Cleveland, Ohio, and freed last year after one of them broke free.
Their captor, Ariel Castro, hanged himself in prison in September.