A Montebello father suspected of killing his wife and fleeing with his four boys before releasing them in a tense televised standoff with police pleaded not guilty Monday.
Daniel Perez is charged with murder and four counts of kidnapping, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said. He was being held in lieu of $1.4 million bail and is due back in court Jan. 12 to schedule his preliminary hearing.
The 43-year-old father and his sons were the subject of an Amber Alert search after the body of his wife, Erica, was found in the truck of the family’s car. The family was said to have been missing since Dec. 5.
Police throughout Southern California searched for Perez and his children, eventually locating him last week in El Cajon.
El Cajon police were tipped off to Perez’s whereabouts after receiving an alert from his vehicle’s Lo-Jack tracking system last Thursday. They spotted his car at an industrial park and tried to pull him over, but he drove away.
Live TV footage showed the boys exiting the family car as it was surrounded by police on an elevated transition road between the 52 and 67 freeways in Santee in San Diego County.
Soon after, Perez exited the car and tried to flee, but he was taken into custody.
“It’s been a pretty traumatic few days for the kids,” Montebello Police Capt. Luis Lopez said.
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