An 8-year-old Moreno Valley boy was reunited with his terror-stricken mother Friday, less than 24 hours after he was lured by candy and money into a stranger's car.
"My baby! My baby!" Shirley Nunez screamed as her son, Jimmy, arrived home, bringing an ecstatic end to every parent's nightmare, the abduction of a child.
The boy was dropped off in the same area by the man who took him less than 24 hours earlier as he was walking home from a market, authorities said.
Jimmy was spotted Friday afternoon by a volunteer searcher. He was still clutching the $20 bill and two lollipops used to lure him into the man's car the previous day.
Jimmy told his mother and authorities that his abductor identified himself as "Joe."
"Jimmy said the man told him he was lonely and wanted him [Jimmy] to be his friend," Shirley Nunez said. "Jimmy said the man didn't touch him."
Riverside County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Lori Marquette said Jimmy appeared to be "in good health, physically and mentally, but was tired." He was being interviewed by detectives and was helping an artist prepare a sketch of the man, Marquette said.
Jimmy and a friend were returning home early Thursday evening from the market when the man drove up alongside them, offered them candy, the money and a trip to Toys R Us, the other boy told authorities.
The other boy refused to get in the car, but Jimmy did.
Her son "trusts everyone he meets," Nunez said, and she speculated that he might have been most enticed by the offer of visiting a toy store.
"We got him a Sega Genesis [video game] for Christmas, but it was stolen," she said. "Maybe Jimmy thought this guy was going to get him a new one."
Did her son learn his lesson? "I certainly hope so," she said. "And I'm just so happy for him to be back home."
The kidnaper was described as in his 30s, about 5-foot-7, 200 pounds, with short brown hair and a mustache, and believed to be driving a blue Japanese-import hatchback.