An observant Riverside police officer is being credited for catching a 42-year-old father in the west suburb with the two sons he allegedly took from their mother in North Carolina more than a year ago, police said today.
Genaro Pineda-Munoz of the 3900 block of Oak Park Avenue in Stickney was arrested on Wednesday at about 9:45 a.m. after he drove past a Riverside police vehicle on the 3400 block of South Harlem Avenue, Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel said.
As the car drove past, Riverside officer Eric Katzin noticed the man's car had an expired registration and quickly turned his car around and began pursuing Pineda-Munoz's vehicle, Weitzel said.
Pineda-Munoz seemed to spot the police car and tried to elude the officer until he was caught in an alley blocks away, Weitzel said. In the back seat of the car was his 3-year-old son.
After making the stop, Katzin began questioning Pineda-Munoz, who said he did not have a valid driver's license. As they spoke, the man began giving the officer various names, birthdates and even handed Katzin a Mexican driver's license, said Weitzel.
After the officer was unable to check out the man's name in a police database, Katzin became suspicious and took Pineda-Munoz into custody.
As the man and his child waited in the Riverside police station police used the Mexican license to find out he was wanted on a outstanding fugitive warrant for kidnapping from the Richmond County, N.C., sheriff's office.
Using photos and scars on the man's body, they were able to identify Pineda-Munoz was the wanted man.
But Pineda-Munoz, who currently lives in Stickney with another woman with whom he has other children, denied he was the same man wanted in the warrant. He had registered his 6-year-old son in a Stickney school under a false name, which Weitzel plans to investigate to understand how it did not set off a “red flag” at the school.
While he continues to deny he was the wanted man, Pineda-Munoz appeared in a Maybrook Courtroom Friday where he pleaded guilty to several traffic violations, including driving on a suspended license, said Weitzel.
He then was turned over to the Cook County Sheriff's fugitive warrant section and is awaiting extradition to North Carolina, Weitzel said.
The children's mother flew to Chicago from Ellerbe, N.C., and was reunited with her sons on Friday under the watchful eyes of Illinois Department of Children and Family Services officials, Weitzel said.
She had last heard from the boys’ father after he left with their sons in a custody dispute on Feb. 19, 2010 when he called her from a cell phone and threatened that she would never see the boys again.
"She completely broke down, she had lost all hope," said Weitzel. "She was in shock, she had no idea where Riverside was."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times