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Suspect Held in Kidnap of San Jose Girl

Police arrest 24-year-old man hours after victim, 9, is found safe. He is believed to have held her at a house a mile from where she was abducted.

June 10, 2003|From Associated Press

The man police arrested Monday in the brazen home-invasion kidnapping of a 9-year-old girl sexually assaulted her and held her in a San Jose house about a mile from the abduction as authorities searched the region for two days, police said.

Police took David Montiel Cruz, 24, into custody in a predawn raid at the home of a friend -- eight hours after he apparently dropped the girl off and less than a mile from where he allegedly kidnapped her after brutally beating her mother and brother, said Police Chief William Lansdowne.

The arrest came after the girl turned up at a convenience store several cities away, shaken but safe, and helped lead police to her alleged abductor.

Cruz was booked on suspicion of kidnapping, burglary, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and sexual assault, authorities said. He is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday.

Cruz is accused of kidnapping the girl Friday after beating her mother and brother. Police said they believe the man knew of the fourth-grade girl through one of her former schoolmates -- though neither the girl nor her family knew him.

On Monday, the suspect tried to fight off officers and was taken to the hospital after a police dog bit him, authorities said. Cruz looked like a police sketch of the suspect, and had injuries consistent with what police expected from a struggle with the girl's mother, Lansdowne said. "We're very confident this is the right person," the chief said.

The mother, her face still puffy from Friday's attack, thanked authorities, the media and her neighbors before she began to choke back tears.

"I want to tell all mothers not to let your kids walk alone on the street, no matter how secure it is," Roselia Tamayo said in Spanish. "Because when you feel you lose a child, I think it is like the feeling of dying."

The girl appeared at a store in East Palo Alto late Sunday night "crying and scared," according to police and the store owner.

Reunited with her mother and other family members, the girl was in good spirits -- and because she remained alert during the ordeal, provided investigators with information leading to the arrest, Lansdowne said.

The girl was healthy and had not suffered major physical injuries, he said. She is not being identified by The Times because she is a victim of sexual abuse.

Deputy Chief Rob Davis said police believe the abduction was not a random crime. Not only did the attacker wait for the girl to return home -- alone -- from school Friday, he twice told her mother "you know what I want" as he beat her.

The girl's ordeal ended about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, when she walked into the Eastside Market, said store owner Isa Yasin, who said he did not see anyone drop her off. "She was crying and scared," Yasin said.

The kidnapper told the girl not to call police, so she first tried to call her mother, though she was too shaken to dial the number, Davis said. After talking to the girl, Yasin realized who she was and called police.

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