A Montebello father who allegedly abducted his four sons and then engaged in a dramatic standoff with police on a San Diego Freeway has been booked on suspicion of murder and kidnapping, authorities said Friday.
Daniel Perez is being held at the Montebello city jail and is scheduled to be arraigned Monday.
The body of Perez’s wife, Erica, was found inside the trunk of the family’s car as police throughout Southern California were fanning out to find the 43-year-old father and his young children, who had gone missing last week.
The cause of death has yet to be determined by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office.
Daniel Perez was taken into custody on suspicion of abducting his four children, ages 6 to 11, who were taken away by law enforcement after a standoff with police on a San Diego County freeway.
Perez was en route back to Montebello, escorted by detectives.
The boys, ages 6 to 11, are in the custody of the Department of Children and Family Services and reportedly were unharmed in the ordeal.
“It’s been a pretty traumatic few days for the kids,” Montebello Police Capt. Luis Lopez said after the children were pulled to safety during a police standoff in San Diego.
Authorities said Daniel Perez was caught thanks to a Lo-Jack tracking system on the black Honda Accord that he was driving. Police located the car about 8:23 a.m. Thursday in an El Cajon industrial park, said El Cajon police Lt. Mike Multon. Because the car’s windows are tinted, officers didn’t know if Perez or the children were in the car, he said, so they called for backup.
But while officers were waiting for reinforcements, Perez drove off, leading to a short pursuit. He eventually stopped on an elevated transition road between the 52 and 67 freeways.
While CHP officers set up behind the car, sharpshooters and other tactical officers took positions on adjacent roads. Police then realized that Perez’s four sons were in the car, Multon said.
Over the next hour, police talked to Perez on a cellphone to negotiate his surrender. Two of his boys escaped during the standoff and ran into the arms of waiting police. The other two were rescued when Perez emerged from the car and was tackled by waiting officers.
At one point, it appeared Perez was considering jumping off the freeway.
The family of six -- Perez, 43, Erica Perez, 39, and their four sons -- were said to have been missing since Friday. A report was filed Wednesday and the Amber Alert was issued after a woman's body was found in the trunk of the family car.
Relatives made a public plea Wednesday for Perez to return his four children.
"Please, Daniel, please just drop the kids off," said a sobbing Pamela Valdez, the children’s aunt, in an emotional news conference. "Don't hurt them, please, they are innocent .… You’re breaking our hearts.”
Family members said the couple had an “unstable” marriage and a history of domestic violence, according to police.
Staff writers Veronica Rocha, Richard Winton, Christine Mai-Duc and Tony Perry contributed to this report.