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2 Boys, Reported Missing, Returned to Families : Recovery: Police search for kidnapers of Nicholas Lopez Jr., 4, found Saturday. A man is charged with child endangerment in Danny Moreno’s disappearance.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Los Angeles police Monday stepped up the search for the kidnapers of a 4-year-old boy who has been returned to his parents, and in another case, a 2-year-old Shadow Hills boy was also returned to his family after being reported missing.

Police were looking for the two men who burst into the Lopez family’s Van Nuys apartment on Woodman Avenue about 1:30 p.m. New Year’s Day, and tied up Consuela Lopez and her 8-year-old son at gunpoint, said Los Angeles Police Lt. Ken Lady.

Then, after they ransacked the apartment, Lady said, the men left with 4-year-old Nicholas Ospina Lopez Jr.

The men, who Lady said may be drug traffickers, had been looking for Nicholas Lopez Sr., and called him numerous times over the week, demanding money for his child. Lady said it was not known why the men had a vendetta against Lopez, who is a partner in an East Los Angeles used car business.

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Lopez “told us he has no idea who the folks are,” Lady said.

The kidnapers allowed the boy to speak to his father by telephone twice during the week, saying he was being well-taken care of and playing Nintendo, Lady said. On Saturday morning the Lopezes got a call telling them to come to Roscoe and Laurel Canyon boulevards to recover the child, Lady said.

The family and police converged on the area, and found little Nicholas playing a video game inside a Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant about 10 a.m., Lady said.

The child said he was held by a family in the Panorama City area--a father named Jose, a mother named Maria, and a son, age 6 to 8, called John Pierre, Lady said.

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When he was kidnaped, little Nicholas was wearing a blue knit shirt with a pattern of white fish, and he returned wearing a Chicago Bears jacket, Lady said.

One kidnaper was described as a balding male Latino with black hair, wearing black sunglasses, a brown jacket and blue jeans, about 30 years old, 5 feet, 5 inches tall, weighing about 160 pounds. The other was also described as a male Latino with black hair about 35 years old, 6 feet tall, weighing about 200 pounds, wearing a black hat and shirt, blue jeans and work boots.

They spoke Spanish with a Colombian accent, said the Lopezes, who are Colombians, Lady said.

In a another case, a 2-year-old Shadow Hills boy who had been reported missing was found in Reseda by police who arrested the man with him on suspicion of felony child endangerment and being under the influence of narcotics, police said.

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Mark Thomas Muse, 30, had taken Danny Moreno, son of his girlfriend Mercedes Torres, out for the day on Friday, police said. When neither returned home by Saturday morning, Torres became worried and went to police, who disseminated photos of the missing man and child.

Late Sunday police got a call from a free-lance television cameraman who said he sighted Muse and the boy near Burbank and Reseda Boulevards, Lt. Joe Garcia said. About 11 p.m. police found the two in a doughnut shop, with Muse’s 1982 Honda Accord broken down nearby.

Danny was sick when police found him, the basis for the child endangerment charge, Garcia said. The boy was turned over to the city Department of Children’s Services, which placed him with his grandmother while his disappearance is investigated, Garcia said.


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