The mother of 3-year-old Milan DePillars--returned safely to her after being held captive for three days--said Tuesday that the alleged kidnapers treated her son well, took him to a playground and bought him a burger at McDonald's.
"He's just fine, he's got all his toys out and he's watching Ninja Turtles cartoons on TV," said his mother. "He wants to go to Disneyland."
Los Angeles police declined to comment on the motive of the two suspects who were arrested late Monday in Ventura, where they were holding Milan at a seaside motel. Elias Hernandez, 27, and Patricia Landeros, 20, were transported to Los Angeles and booked on suspicion of kidnaping, authorities said.
The boy's mother said she does not know the suspects, but added that detectives told her Tuesday they still believe the abduction was in retribution for her testimony against a former boyfriend charged with raping and kidnaping her last year at a South-Central Los Angeles motel.
She also said that her ex-boyfriend was not a member of the Rolling 60s street gang, despite initial police reports that members of that gang might have snatched her son in retaliation for testifying against one of their colleagues.
"The police told me that (Milan's abduction) was related to my kidnaping," the woman said. "But the gang had nothing to do with it. I want to apologize to the Rolling 60s for them having to be brought into this."
The defendant in that case, Lawrence F. Floyd, pleaded no contest to rape and kidnap charges during his trial in October. He is in custody at Peter J. Pitchess Honor Rancho near Castaic and, as part of a plea-bargain arrangement, is expected to be sentenced Thursday to 18 years in state prison.
His attorney, deputy public defender Dick Tom, said there was no motive for Floyd to have orchestrated the boy's abduction, especially because he had already accepted the lengthy prison term.
"He's stuck with what he's agreed to," Tom said. "What purpose would it serve him to be involved in all this?"
Tom also contended that his client never bore any ill will toward Milan's mother, who testified that he stalked her, beat her, abducted her at gunpoint and sexually assaulted her. Floyd has maintained that the allegations were exaggerated and that all their relations had been consensual, his attorney said.
"He never painted her in a bad picture," Tom said. "He always spoke very highly of her. . . . He couldn't understand why she was doing this to him."
A prosecutor in the case, however, said that Floyd--who allegedly threatened to have the DePillars home shot up if the woman told police she had been abducted--was a dangerously obsessed man.
"I felt terrible for her," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Linda Reisz, who handled the preliminary hearing last December. "She really was in tremendous fear of him."
Her son was found Monday about 9 p.m. in Room 6 of the Ventura Beach House Motel, nearly 72 hours after he was snatched from the family's Southwest Los Angeles duplex. Officials said Milan was in good condition and showed no signs of injury or abuse.
A team of Los Angeles detectives headed to Ventura about 6 p.m. that evening--one flew to Oxnard and the others drove--but police declined to say why they believed the boy was being held there.
After meeting with members of the Ventura Police Department's special enforcement team, officers spent about three hours investigating leads in the city, then headed for the motel, said Ventura police spokesman Lt. Don Arth.
"One of the LAPD detectives and one of our officers looked through the louvered window and saw a small child sitting on the bed watching TV," Arth said. "They determined it was the victim."
Then, Arth said, they quickly forced open the room door, and one of the officers grabbed the child off the bed and removed him from the room.
"It was the element of surprise," Arth said. "We wanted to get the kid out of danger."
Inside the room, they found Patricia Landeros, who surrendered without a struggle. Two hours later, Elias Hernandez walked into the Ventura police station and gave himself up, Arth said.
P.C. Chen, manager of the Ventura Beach House Motel, said that Hernandez arrived in a white van on Saturday and paid the single rate of $29.70 for a small room with one double-sized bed, a TV set and a tiny refrigerator.
Hernandez paid for the room again on Sunday and Monday, never disclosing that he had a female companion or a child with him, Chen said.
"It was very quiet," said Chen, whose office faces the room. "I didn't even see the people inside come out."
Milan was taken to the Ventura police station, where he was reunited with his mother. While there, officers gave him a tour of the communications center and presented him with a little stick-on badge proclaiming him a junior policeman.
"We gave him the grand treatment," Arth said. "He captured the hearts of several people here."