UK & World News

  • 22 May 2014, 13:07

'Abducted' Girl Is Found After 10 Years

A woman from California who disappeared as a teenager 10 years ago has contacted police saying she was held captive by her mother's boyfriend.

The victim says she was kidnapped in 2004 at the age of 15 by Isidro Garcia, according to Santa Ana police.

Garcia, 41, has been arrested on suspicion of abduction, rape, lewd acts with a minor and false imprisonment.

Investigators say Garcia moved home several times to avoid detection, gave the girl multiple fake identities and obtained night-shift cleaning jobs for himself and the victim so he could keep watch over her. The victim, who has not been identified, lived with Garcia under what investigators described as "sustained physical and mental abuse".

She is believed to have been sexually abused and bore a child to her captor in 2012, five years after she was forced to marry him.

Investigators say Garcia had been in a relationship with the girl's mother, who suspected he was sexually abusing her daughter.

In June 2004, he allegedly attacked the mother before drugging the girl and driving her to a house in Compton where he locked her in a garage.

According to police, the accused imprisoned her in a garage and told her that her family had stopped looking for her and they would be deported if she went to police.

"You're talking about a 15-year-old girl that's in a new country," police Corporal Anthony Bertagna said of the victim, who had entered the US illegally from Mexico and spoke no English.

"She's got nowhere to go."

But after being locked up at first, she eventually began to lead what appeared from the outside to be a normal life.

"Even with the opportunity to escape, after years of physical and mental abuse, the victim saw no way out of her situation," police said in astatement.

Neighbours said they were stunned at the news and described the two as a normal couple who went to church, hosted parties for their friends and appeared to love their child.

"He treats her like a queen, he does his best to do whatever she wants," neighbour Maria Sanchez said.

Reports suggested the woman may not have tried to escape earlier due to a case of Stockholm syndrome, in which victims of kidnappings sympathise with their abductors.

After years of physical and emotional abuse, the victim, now 25, approached police after finding her sister on Facebook, say investigators.

She initially reported a case of domestic violence, but then the full story started to emerge.

The case has similarities to the Cleveland kidnappingwhere three women were subjected to rape and beatings by their abductor Ariel Castro during about a decade in captivity.

Castro committed suicide in prison last summer.

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