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Possible Suspect in Custody in Kidnapping of 9-Year-Old

Aired June 9, 2003 - 11:49   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Back to our other breaking story we are following for you out of California, where sources are telling our Thelma Gutierrez that a potential suspect is in custody, and that relates to the Jennette Tamayo case, the 9-year-old girl taken from her home.
Let's go now to Thelma with the very latest.

THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's correct, Fredricka.

We are hearing that a suspect is now in custody. He was arrested just two blocks away from the actual kidnapping scene. Police say that he does match the description. They think it will take at least an hour to determine whether or not he is, in fact, the suspect who abducted 9-year-old Jennette Tamayo on Friday afternoon.

WHITFIELD: Now, Thelma, how is it believed that the suspect was apprehended?

GUTIERREZ: Let me bring in a member here of the San Jose Police Department.


GUTIERREZ: How were you able to apprehend this man? Were you following him? How did he come to your attention?

SGT. STEVE DIXON, SAN JOSE POLICE: First of all this man is just a potential suspect in this case. We don't know if he's the suspect, or one of two suspects.

But based on leads that we developed this morning after Jennette escaped or got away, and other leads that were called in to us, we focused -- this area is very close, the area where we stopped this fellow, is close to where the kidnapping took place. He does fit the description. So we're thinking might be the suspect.

GUTIERREZ: How closely does he fit that description? Can you tell us what was he driving at the time? I know you were looking for a four-door sedan in which he put the child away.

DIXON: As far as fitting the description, he fits it very well. He was not driving at the time. He was actually in a residence nearby. We developed information to go to that residence. And once we made contact with him, again, we have him listed now as a potential suspect. And hopefully within an hour, with a press conference, we will have that firmed up.

GUTIERREZ: Now you say an hour or so away. What will you be able to need to determine that in fact he is. I know the mother had said she was actually able to scratch at him, she was able to perhaps have some DNA under her fingernails.

DIXON: Yes, and that kind of evidence takes a long time to develop. We have our people from the Seneca Country crime lab who have come in over the weekend looking at some evidence that might give us some DNA. So if that does take place, it will probably take a day or two to develop that, to match it up to the suspect. But when we do that, we know we'll have the right suspect.

GUTIERREZ: Has he said anything at all?

DIXON: No, and we don't know who he is. We are still trying to identify him. So that is going to cause a bit of a delay as well. But again, I want people to understand, it's just a potential suspect; we don't know that we have the suspect in custody yet.

GUTIERREZ: Can you tell me if this particular man was with family members, if he just was renting nearby, anything like that?

DIXON: He was alone at the time that we arrested him. And, again, we still don't know if there's one or two suspects in this case. We are still considering there might be a second suspect, so we have a lot work yet to do.

GUTIERREZ: And nothing yet on the vehicle?

DIXON: Not just yet, no. We may have something by 10:00 on that.

GUTIERREZ: Have the Tamayo's been told about this recent development?

DIXON: I don't know. They are still with our investigators. And, of course, we have a lot of work to do with them. Again, it's not just a matter of saying somebody looks like a sketch, we have to have an identification made. Again, if there's DNA evidence, we want to match that up as well.

GUTIERREZ: But all along, you had been saying that you were very confident that this person, this suspect, was from the area, and also that an arrest was coming down.

DIXON: We were confident he was from the area once Jennette got away. Once we got ahold of Jennette, we thought, the suspect was local, he's still in the area someplace. If this is the suspect, he was.

GUTIERREZ: The 9-year-old was actually able to provide some of that good and detailed information in order for you to have these...

DIXON: I hope when Chief Lanzon (ph) comes out at 10:00 we can put out -- we can't put out all of it, of course, but I hope we can show how intelligent, how clever, how brave she was, because she was just amazing.

GUTIERREZ: Was she able to escape. or was she released?

DIXON: I think it's probably a combination, to be honest with you, But I think you'll find she was very, very clever.

GUTIERREZ: OK, thank you very much. Thank you for joining us.

And so, Fredricka, a possible suspect now in custody. They say they don't know if there was one or perhaps two people involved in the abduction of 9-year-old Jennette Tamayo.

WHITFIELD: All right, thank you very much, Thelma Gutierrez.


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