Kidnapped kids may already be in Mexico
AVON – The FBI and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have been enlisted to help the Avon Police Department search for two Avon children believed to have been taken by their mother’s boyfriend, said Avon Police Chief Brian Kozak. An Amber Alert from Colorado to the Mexican border was canceled at 5 p.m. Saturday. Police think suspect Pedro Mata Rodriguez, who has been convicted of sex offenses, is taking the children to Mexico, Kozak said. After last seeing her children at 5 a.m. Friday, Kozak said, Hilda Vargas returned to her Sunridge apartment in Avon at about noon and realized her children – Jessica Marbella Garcia, 15, and Jose Luis Cerrato, 11 – and Rodriguez were gone at about 1:30 p.m. All their clothing and belongings were also missing, Kozak said. Garcia had left a note telling her mother – with whom Vargas has a tumultuous relationship – she was leaving home, Kozak said. “He cannot take her kids, and there’s enough probable cause to believe he’s with them,” Kozak said, adding that Vargas’ youngest child, a 5-year-old boy whose name wasn’t released, said his siblings has left with Rodriquez. Elizabeth Barahona Oneida, 26, a friend of Vargas’, is also thought to be with Rodriguez, Kozak said.
“She’s extremely emotional,” Kozak said, adding that Vargas declined to meet with the media. The Avon Police issued an arrest warrant for Rodriguez late Friday night on two counts of suspected kidnapping. Bond was set at $250,000, according to Avon Police. However, because police don’t know what car Rodriguez is driving, the search is all the more difficult, Kozak said. Rodriguez didn’t have a car, and officials aren’t sure where he got the one he’s driving.
“People aren’t stopped as they’re leaving the country, and it’s possible that they’ve already crossed the border,” Kozak said. “But it’s possible that they’re sill in the country or the state.”Police want to contact any of Rodriguez’s associates, friends or co-workers to see if they have any information about his whereabouts, but it’s a tough process. “There’s a good chance that there’s a friend’s helping him. We are worried that people might know something and aren’t coming to us because they’re worried about their status in the country, but we don’t care about people’s immigration status,” Kozak said. “Our first priority is to get those kids back. We won’t ask any questions about that.”
As of Saturday evening, the FBI had exhausted leads in Avon and quit for the day. However, FBI agents from Colorado all the way into Mexico have been alerted about the kidnapping and are on the lookout, Kozak said. “With their international contacts, they can start to look for the children south of the border,” he said. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children got involved because of Rodriguez’s sexual criminal history and is helping to spread the word about the kidnapping. Rodriguez was imprisoned in Florida for fondling a child and then deported to Mexico. Rodriguez returned to the United States illegally and has also been convicted of driving under the influence and carrying a firearm in Texas.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of new stuff to report,” Kozak said. Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 748-2927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.