Santa Ana kidnapping case sparked by domestic violence report

The case against a man who authorities say kidnapped a teenage girl a decade ago and forced her to marry him and have his child was sparked earlier this week when the now-25-year-old woman walked into a police station to report a domestic violence allegation.

The woman took her 2-year-old child to their local police station in Bell Gardens on Monday and told officers about the alleged violence at the hand of her husband, Isidro Garcia, 42, said Lt. Scott Fairfield.
As officers questioned her, a startling story emerged: Garcia had held her against her will, the woman said, and kept her under his control after she left her mother's Santa Ana apartment on a summer night in 2004.

On Wednesday, Santa Ana police announced that Garcia had been arrested the day before on suspicion of kidnapping for rape, lewd acts with a minor and false imprisonment.  Garcia could not be reached for comment Wednesday. The case has been forwarded to the Orange County district attorney's office.

Santa Ana police allege Garcia drugged and kidnapped the girl and beat her when she tried to flee. He later forced her to marry him, police say, and he forced her to move with him to different parts of Southern California to avoid being caught.

The girl arrived in Santa Ana from Mexico in March 2004 to reunite with her mother, who was living with Garcia in an apartment community that houses hundreds of immigrant and working-class families.

Police say Garcia physically abused the mother and began sexually abusing the daughter soon after her arrival.

The night of the kidnapping in August 2004, Garcia beat the mother and when the girl fled to a park, he followed her, Santa Ana Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.


"She said, 'I just want to go home, I have a headache,' " Bertagna said. "He tells her, 'You can't go home. You're here illegally and your mom called the police.' "

Garcia drugged the girl and when she awoke she was in a garage in Compton, Bertagna said.

She tried to escape but each time Garcia caught up to her, beat her and told her that her mother no longer loved her, according to Bertagna.

Eventually, Bertagna said, "she becomes accustomed to this."

They lived in several Southern California cities, including Stanton and Long Beach. Garcia also obtained false papers from Mexico changing the girl's birth date so they could be married, Bertagna said. He forced her to work a night shift as a janitor alongside him to keep an eye on her, he said.

One woman who knew the missing girl's mother said the mother may have initially believed her daughter went with Garcia willingly.

Araceli Ochoa, a leasing agent at the Santa Ana apartment complex, said the mother came to her office deeply worried after the disappearance.

"She couldn't understand how her daughter could leave," Ochoa said in Spanish.

Silvia Suarez, 54, a former neighbor, recalled speaking with the mother shortly before the kidnapping. She suspected Garcia was having a sexual relationship with her daughter and the girl was making plans to leave with him.

"I spoke to her mom about God," Suarez said in Spanish. "She said she was having problems with her partner. She believed he was romancing her daughter."

Ochoa said she was relieved the girl had been found.

"I am very excited that they found her, but it's still a tragedy that she has to live with every day now," she said. "Each day with him probably felt like 100 years to her."