Kidnap victim released after decade in captivity

SAPD Mug shot of Isidro Garcia

A woman who disappeared in 2004 as a 15-year-old has been found and her alleged abductor arrested

LAST UPDATED AT 08:56 ON Thu 22 May 2014

A man has been arrested on suspicion of kidnapping, false imprisonment and rape after a 25-year-old woman who disappeared in 2004 was freed by Californian authorities.

The victim, who has not been named, was kidnapped ten years ago and held against her will by her mother's former boyfriend Isidro Garcia, the Santa Ana Police Department said in a statement.

Garcia, 41, was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of kidnapping for rape, lewd acts with a minor and false imprisonment, the BBC reports. He has not yet been formally charged.

According to the Santa Ana Police Department, a 15-year-old was reported missing by her mother in 2004, after a domestic violence incident. Garcia, the mother's then boyfriend, disappeared at the same time. According to police, the mother believed Garcia was sexually abusing her daughter, but had no evidence to support her suspicion. 

The young woman told police that when Garcia abducted her, he drugged her and locked her in a garage in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton.

"Over the following years, Garcia repeatedly told the victim her family had given up looking for her, and if she tried to go back to them, the family would be deported. The two moved on several occasions to avoid police detection," police said.

Garcia is alleged to have frequently physically and sexually assaulted the woman. He also organised a night cleaning job for the two of them, "so he could keep a close eye on the victim". 

The woman may have had chances to escape, police said, but years of "physical and mental abuse" seem to have prevented her from taking the opportunity, the Huffington Post reports.

According to the release, in 2007, Garcia forced the woman to marry him, and in 2012 they had a child together.

Neighbours who knew the pair as "Laura and Thomas" believed they were a happy couple and sometimes went to their apartment for parties. Corporal Anthony Bertagna of the Santa Ana Police Department told reporters that Garcia had "brainwashed" the young woman. · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.