Prosecutors Say Devoted Husband Is Long Time Kidnap-Rapist - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

Prosecutors Say Devoted Husband Is Long Time Kidnap-Rapist

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Bell Gardens, CA - (FOX 11 / AP) The Bell Gardens woman who says she was kidnapped by her mother's boyfriend a decade ago appeared happy at her birthday party last month, but became more distant and private after reuniting with her mother, a neighbor said.

"She was different with us after that. She was more serious, more distant," Maria Azucena Reyes said Thursday.

The woman's story of being drugged, kidnapped and forced to marry her alleged captor began to emerge Monday, when she went to a police station in working-class Bell Gardens and accused the man of domestic violence. During that conversation, officers learned of her connection to a 2004 missing-persons case in Santa Ana, about 20 miles away.

Santa Ana police said they interviewed both Isidro Garcia, 41, and the woman and said they concluded that he had kidnapped her after a fight with her mother, who was his girlfriend at the time.

After holding her captive, Garcia moved at least four times and gave her multiple fake identities to hide her from family and authorities, Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.

Garcia was charged Thursday with five felonies, including rape and kidnapping to commit a sexual offense. He remained jailed on $1 million bail.

The woman, whom police did not identify, told investigators she often thought about escaping but fear paralyzed her. She came to the United States illegally in 2004, spoke no English at the time, and said Garcia used that to isolate her, telling her that if she contacted authorities, she would be deported.

The woman also claimed that Garcia beat her when she twice tried to escape.

"I couldn't do nothing. I did what he wants. I don't have life these 10 years," the woman told KABC-TV on Wednesday night. The station didn't identify her because she's an alleged victim of sexual abuse.

The woman told investigators that she was too scared to go to authorities until she was recently reunited with her mother, police said.

But Garcia's lawyer contended that the woman lied about being abused because the couple is separating.

His client never brutalized the woman or kept her from leaving, Charles Frisco said.

"People have problems, people break up and sometimes get very belligerent during the divorce process, the separation process, and say things that aren't true," Frisco said.

Police said Garcia forced the woman to marry in 2007 and fathered a daughter with her who is now 3.

In April, the woman got in touch with her mother after finding her sister on Facebook, according to Bertagna.

The mother showed the daughter old news articles to prove that she had gone to the police and filed a missing-persons report, Bertagna said.

"The mother was able to show her that she was, in fact, looking for her," Bertagna said.

When reached by phone, the woman's mother told The Associated Press that police told her not to speak with any media.

On Mother's Day, the woman posted a photo on Facebook of herself "after almost 10 years of not seeing my mom and my little sister." "I love them," she wrote of another photo of the reunion.

Her Facebook page, confirmed as hers by neighbors, portrayed a happy family; on May 1, she updated her profile picture to include a family shot at a park. She frequently posted about the health of her young daughter, who suffered allergies and some fevers. Neighbors said she called Garcia "mi amor," or "my love," and was trying to conceive again.

"People say he was controlling, but I don't see him (as) smart enough to do that," neighbor Lourdes Hernandez said. "On the contrary, she used to manage the money. ... He wasn't that smart. She was."

Reyes said Garcia drove his wife to see her mother in Anaheim in subsequent visits after the reunion.

The criminal charges all date to a three-month period in 2004 around the time she went missing.

If the case goes to trial, prosecutors will have to convince a jury that the man neighbors saw as a hard-working, church-going man was an abusive rapist.

Garcia and the woman both worked for a janitorial company cleaning a building that houses some offices of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. Neighbors said he also held a second job and collected recyclables to earn extra money. They said he recently bought his wife a minivan.

Even the woman agreed that Garcia appeared to be devoted.

"He worked hard for me and my daughter and he bought everything I want," she said. "But I didn't want that. I need love of my family, not things."

Prosecutors said it doesn't matter that the woman seemed these days to be a happy, loving wife and mother who never said a word about being held captive.

"Over the course of many, many years, her freedoms may have increased, but she was still mentally his captive," said Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman for Orange County's district attorney. "I'm sure the neighbors are stating what they saw, but what was going on privately in the home was different. This was prolonged and extended emotional, physical and sexual abuse."

Other neighbors said they sensed not all was well.

"He was always watching, you know, when she was outside, he was looking through the window," said neighbor Maribel Garcia, who used to babysit the woman's baby. "She would just look at him up and then she would go right back in."






A woman who vanished as a teenager reappeared a decade later, telling police her mother's ex-boyfriend drugged and kidnapped her, forced her to marry him and fathered their child.

In August of 2004, a 15-year-old was reported missing to the Santa Ana Police Department by her mother. The mother reported that her daughter went missing along with her cohabitant boyfriend, Isidro Garcia, after a domestic violence incident. At the time, the mother suspected Garcia of sexually abusing her daughter; however she had no evidence to support this belief. On May 20, 2014 the victim, now 25-years-old, disclosed the circumstances of her disappearance to law enforcement.

The victim said in June of 2004, while living with her mother and sisters in Santa Ana, Isidro Garcia began sexually assaulting her. In August of 2004, after Garcia assaulted her mother, Garcia drugged the victim and drove her to a house in Compton.

There, Garcia provided the victim with falsified identity documents and locked her overnight in a garage to prevent the victim from fleeing. 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. The two moved on several occasions to avoid police detection. Garcia frequently physically and sexually assaulted the victim. Garcia arraigned for the two of them to receive employment at a night 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. In 2007, Garcia forced the victim into a marriage and in 2012 the two had a child. Recently the victim contacted her sister on Facebook and eventually gained the courage to contact the police.

On May 20, 2014, Isidro Garcia, age 41 of Bell Gardens, was arrested and booked for:

209(b)(1) PC - Kidnap for Rape

288(c)(1) PC - Lewd Act With Minor

273(a) PC - False Imprisonment.

The case has been submitted to the Orange County District Attorney's Office for filing consideration.

HOW DID IT HAPPEN?

Police say 41-year-old suspect Isidro Garcia was dating the mother of the victim and living with the family in Santa Ana, the urban center of Orange County. When the mother became suspicious Garcia was sexually abusing her daughter, authorities say Garcia assaulted the mother, drugged the teen and fled with her to a house in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton, about 25 miles away.

HOW DID THEY REMAIN CONCEALED FOR A DECADE?

Police say Garcia made elaborate efforts to conceal her name and age. He provided the teenager, who had entered the country illegally, with false identification and used physical and emotional abuse to prevent her from fleeing. The teen was initially confined in a garage, and the couple moved frequently to avoid detection. In 2007 Garcia obtained false identification papers for her from Mexico so they could marry.

DID THEIR LATEST NEIGHBORS NOTICE ANYTHING SUSPICIOUS?

Apparently not, and some were shocked by the news. They knew the suspect as Tomas Medrano and called him a devoted family man who doted on his wife and toddler daughter. The couple attended church and were known for elaborate parties. Next-door neighbor Maria Sanchez said in Spanish that "he treats her like a queen."

DID SHE TRY TO ESCAPE?

Yes, police say, at least twice, but she was severely beaten.

WHY DIDN'T SHE USE OTHER OPPORTUNITIES TO FLEE?

According to authorities, the victim was new the country, didn't speak English and saw no way out of her situation as she lived under sustained physical and mental abuse. Medical experts say captor-victim relationships can sometimes involve a "trauma bond" -situations where people ought to leave but do not. Victims become "infantilized, dominated. They end up being attached to the person who dominates them, much like a child," says psychiatrist Frank Ochberg.


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