By Dan Whitcomb
A woman abducted from her suburban Southern California home when she was 15 has been found alive after a decade-long ordeal of physical and sexual abuse, and her accused kidnapper has been arrested, police said on Wednesday.
Now 25, the woman told detectives she was kidnapped in August 2004 by a man who had been living with her family in Santa Ana, the city’s police department said in a statement. She was not named by authorities.
Over the years, the woman was sexually assaulted by her abductor and gave birth to his child in 2012, police said. She contacted authorities on Tuesday after first reaching out to her sister on Facebook, police said.
Isidro Garcia, 41, was taken into custody on Tuesday at the home where he was living with the woman in the city of Bell Gardens, about 32 km from Santa Ana, and booked on suspicion of kidnapping, rape, lewd acts with a minor and false imprisonment, police said.
The woman’s escape comes a year after three Ohio women were freed from a home in suburban Cleveland, telling authorities that they had been held captive there for years and abused by their captor, Ariel Castro.
Castro pleaded guilty to 937 counts including aggravated murder for forcing one of the women, whom he had impregnated, to miscarry. He was found hanged in his cell a month into a life sentence in a death later ruled a suicide.
In the California case, the then-teenager’s mother reported her missing, along with Garcia, shortly after he fled the home with her daughter. Their whereabouts remained unknown for the next 10 years.
The young woman told authorities that Garcia, who lived with her family, began sexually abusing her in June 2004 and took her from the home in August of that year after assaulting her mother, police said.
She told police that on the night of her abduction, Garcia drugged her and locked her overnight in a garage in the nearby city of Compton.
He moved with the teenager several times during the following months and years, police said, giving her false identification under a different name and telling her that family members had stopped looking for her and would be deported if she tried to contact them.
Garcia frequently assaulted the woman physically and sexually over the next 10 years, forcing her into marriage in 2007 and later impregnating her, she told police.
Police said Garcia arranged for both of them to work at a nighttime cleaning service so he could keep watch over her, and added that she saw no way to escape.
A woman who lived near Garcia’s home in Bell Gardens told local KCBS-TV that she had interacted with him and the woman and never considered that anything was amiss.
“She always seemed happy,” the woman said.