Kidnapping story with a strange twist
FIRST, he drugged and kidnapped his girlfriend's 15-year-old daughter. Later, he said that if she tried to get away, her family would be deported. Eventually, he forced her to marry him, and she had a baby.
On Wednesday, 10 years after the man is said to have abducted the teenager, the police announced that he had been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping for rape and false imprisonment, among other charges.
The man, identified by the police as Isidro Garcia, 41, was to be arraigned yesterday.
Several neighbours said the couple, whom they knew as Tomas and Laura, had been there for years and appeared to live a mundane but happy life, hosting annual birthday parties for their three-year-old daughter, Lupita.
"I don't believe it," said Erika Sanchez, 24, who lives next door and occasionally baby-sat the toddler. "It doesn't seem right."
The police said the victim, now 25, had contacted them after reaching out to her sister on Facebook on the sister's birthday.
They said she had stayed with Garcia because she did not see a way out of a situation that involved "years of sustained physical and mental abuse".
Anthony Bertagna, a spokesman for the Santa Ana police, told the KNX-AM radio station in Los Angeles that the woman had tried to escape at least once.
"She was a 15-year-old girl in a new country," he said. "She'd been told by the suspect her family didn't want her, and this was all she's got."
The police said Garcia used a pseudonym, Tomas Rodriguez Medrano.
The family was originally from Mexico, the police said. They did not identify the woman or her mother.
The police said that in 2004, Garcia was dating the woman's mother and living with the family.
The woman told the police that Garcia had begun sexually assaulting her in June of that year.
The mother had suspected as much but had no evidence to prove it, the police said.
Garcia abducted the teenager in August after assaulting her mother, the police said.
The police said he had compelled her to marry him in 2007, and in 2012 she had a child, though several neighbours said their daughter was three.
The woman told the police that Garcia had said repeatedly that her family had given up looking for her and that her mother and sisters would be deported if she tried to return home.