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Woman linked to kidnapping of Northern California family turns out to be victim of abduction

A woman who was arrested with a man in connection with the kidnapping of a Northern California family was released Wednesday after police discovered she also was a victim and had been abducted at gunpoint.

Aundrea Elizabeth Maes, 19, had been arrested with Edwin Enoc Lara, 31, Tuesday night following a pursuit with speeds reaching 100 mph in Corning, Calif., authorities said. The pair had been wanted in connection with the shooting of a man at a hotel and the kidnapping of a family.

As detectives began interviewing Maes, they discovered she was a kidnapping victim from Salem, Ore., according to the Yreka Police Department.

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Maes’ uncle told KGW-TV in Oregon that Lara kidnapped his niece at gunpoint about 8:45 p.m. when she was getting off work. He jumped into her car and then took her on a crime rampage in Northern California, he said.

Lara, a college security guard, is suspected in the disappearance of a 23-year-old Bend, Ore., woman, the Oregonian reported. Kaylee Sawyer was reported missing Sunday, and authorities think they know where her body is. Lara’s police officer wife reported him to authorities.

Once Lara crossed into California on Tuesday, Yreka police said a string of violent crimes occurred within hours, shaking their city.

At 5 a.m., police responding to the Super 8 Motel on Montague Road, found a man who had been shot in the stomach, police said. He was taken to a hospital and was in stable condition Wednesday.

About five minutes later, a man calling from a Mobil gas station less than a block from the motel reported that his car had been taken with his family inside.

Siskiyou County sheriff’s deputies and officers from Yreka and the California Highway Patrol began to search for the car and the missing family of three.

Almost 40 minutes later, police got a call from the man’s family. They had been dropped on Interstate 5 north of Weed, Calif. The family was not harmed.

Information about Lara’s whereabouts began pouring into the police department.

A cellphone pinged off a cell tower at 6:18 a.m. showing Lara possibly was on the same highway, just north of Redding, police said. Yreka police immediately notified law enforcement agencies in the area.

Less than an hour later, CHP spotted Lara in the stolen vehicle and tried to stop him. But he drove off and engaged police in a high-speed chase that went on for about 10 miles before he finally stopped, the CHP said.

Lara and Maes were taken into custody on suspicion of attempted murder, kidnapping and carjacking burglary, police said.

Soon after, police discovered Lara was wanted in connection with the Oregon death.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

For breaking news in California, follow VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

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