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Ex-O.C. woman held in abduction of 3 children

May 16, 2008|David Haldane | Times Staff Writer

A woman with secondary custody of her three children has been charged with felony child abduction and endangerment after surreptitiously taking them from an Orange County hospital, where one was being treated for pneumonia, authorities said Thursday.

Ida Maribel Torres, 33, was arrested about 1 p.m. Thursday in Moriarty, N.M., 25 miles east of Albuquerque. She apparently had driven all night from Children's Hospital of Orange County in Orange, where she had left with the children late Wednesday, authorities said.

"As far as we know, the kids are OK," said Susan Kang Schroeder, a spokeswoman for the Orange County district attorney's office. The siblings are a 10-month-old boy and two girls, ages 5 and 11.

The boy had been hospitalized since Saturday, Schroeder said. "We want to make sure that the baby goes back to the hospital for the care that he needs," she said.

The alleged abduction occurred about 4 p.m. Wednesday when Torres, who is separated from the children's father and recently moved from Fountain Valley to Kentucky, visited them at the hospital while their dad was downstairs.

After returning to find Torres and the children gone, Schroeder said, he notified police, who issued an Amber Alert and began searching for them.

The father, whose name was not released, has primary custody of the children and Torres is allowed to take them every other weekend. Investigators think Torres was on her way back to Kentucky to live with a cousin, Schroeder said.

The cousin, Joel Torres, was seen on a hospital surveillance video fleeing with the mother and children. Schroeder said no decision had been made whether to charge him.

"The father has been extremely distressed," she said. "He is still worried, but relieved. Our office will do everything it can to make sure he is reunited with the children as quickly as possible."

Torres, who is in the custody of New Mexico State Police, faces extradition to Orange County. If convicted, authorities said, she could face up to eight years in state prison.

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david.haldane@latimes.com

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