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Suspect in California Kidnapping Faces Sex, Assault Charges

Aired June 9, 2003 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're starting this hour in California, where an alleged kidnapping is over. A 9-year-old girl is safe, a suspect is in custody and the horrifying details are only now coming to light. Authorities plan to charge the suspect with kidnapping, felony assault as well as sexual assault.
Dan Lothian has the story.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tears run down Rosalie Tamayo's swollen face, the mother injured trying to fight off her daughter's kidnapper, relieved that her three-day nightmare is over and that a suspect, David Montiel Cruz (ph), is behind bars.

Her words in Spanish flowing without pause. "When you feel you lose a child," she says, "it is like the feeling of dying."

MAYOR RON GONZALES, SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA: He family has been through a great deal of pain. Her neighborhood has been through a great deal of pain.

LOTHIAN: The 9-year-old victim, who police say may have been sexually assaulted, turned up at this convenience store Sunday night, more than 20 miles from her San Jose home, where she was abducted on Friday.

The store's owner called 911 after questioning the frightened fourth grader who had asked to use the phone.

ISA YASIN, STORE OWNER: I asked her, How old are you? She said 9. So right away I figured out she's the one missing from San Jose.

LOTHIAN: From the street, where a neighbor's surveillance tape captured the bold daytime crime.

The 9-year-old returns from school and encounters the waiting attacker. Her mother and brother show up a few minutes later and become victims too. The suspect, who had pulled his car into the family's garage, speeds off with the young girl.

The FBI, 150 local police and search and rescue teams from seven counties launch a massive manhunt. The surveillance tape is released, along with this sketch of the suspect.

Late last night, the first big break. The young girl is found at this store, shaken, but safe.

CHIEF WILLIAM LANSDOWNE, SAN JOSE POLICE: I have never seen such a courageous little girl.

BLITZER: Early this morning, a few blocks from the crime scene, police arrest the suspect and find crucial evidence.

LANSDOWNE: The physical injuries that he has on his person matched the circumstances of this situation.

BLITZER: The 9-year-old's mother is now warning other parents to be more vigilant, so they won't ever have to walk in her shoes.


LOTHIAN: Investigators are not talking about specifics when it comes to motive. But they say 24-year-old Cruz did have some connection to a former classmate of the victim.

Once again, he is being held on suspicion of sexual assault, kidnapping, robbery, burglary and assault with a deadly weapon -- Anderson.

COOPER: Dan, thanks very much for that report.

San Jose Police Chief Bill Lansdowne said today he is very confident the suspect now in custody is the right man. But aside from the abduction itself, there are a number of bizarre circumstances surrounding this case, to say the least, including the fact that one of the neighbors just happened to have a security camera that captured the comings and goings at the girl's house last Friday afternoon.

Joining us now is Rob Davis. He's deputy chief at the San Jose police force, and is heading up the investigation.

Rob, thanks very much for being with us. First of all, can you tell us how the little girl is doing?

DEPUTY CHIEF ROB DAVIS,, SAN JOSE POLICE DEPT.: She's doing great. Her spirits are up, the family has welcomed her with open arms and she's doing great right now.

COOPER: Is the suspect talking?

DAVIS: He was very uncooperative this morning, but as we speak, they are interviewing him and he's being rather cooperative at this point.

COOPER: I know you're unwilling to speak to motive. I certainly understand that. Can't -- I'm not sure what you can and cannot say though, so if I ask you something you can't say, just let me know. Can you say -- do you know at this point whether or not the girl was the target of his entering the house?

DAVIS: There's a lot of factors that are going into a variety of different motives and what we're doing right now -- as we speak, the girl is being interviewed again and the suspect is being interviewed. We still have to take those two interview, piece some of the things together to determine exactly what the motive was. So I can't comment on that exact motive at this time.

COOPER: OK. So at this point, you don't fully know exactly what the motive was, is that right?

DAVIS: Not fully. No, we don't.

COOPER: OK. What -- and what is happening to the suspect? Is he still being questioned?

DAVIS: He is still being questioned. We find him cooperative at this point. In fact, it's ongoing as we speak.

COOPER: OK. Want to talk about the surveillance camera a little bit. Do you know why it happened to be on? I mean, that obviously was a huge boon to the investigation.

DAVIS: It really was. It was a substantial lead for us and really set the stage for us to be able to know how to approach the case in terms of time sequencing.

So the family that had that thing installed in their house really gave us a great gift at the beginning. I believe that it was the son of the woman who owns the house that actually installed that camera because he has a business in the security industry.

COOPER: You know, I guess if you had to categorize this, you would say it is a success story. The little girl is back at home. What do you think it is that contributed to the success?

DAVIS: A variety of factors. I don't think there was any component of how the case came together that didn't go exactly as it should.

We appealed to the media, the media responded as it should. We appealed to the community, they paid attention. There was somebody who was listening that was able to call 911. The people that we appealed to to help us do the searches, everyone poured out en masse. We just have been so appreciate, all of the support we've gotten from all of those different segments of our community.

COOPER: And certainly the convenience store clerk who, because he had seen the media coverage and seen the police flyers and the like, called in the little girl being in his store.

At this point, are you -- do you know whether the little girl escaped or was let go?

DAVIS: Based upon what we know right now, we believe he released her and she went in terrified into that market. But, again, we're still interviewing her to see if we can get more detail. But it looks like he actually left her there, deserted her there.

COOPER: All right. Deputy Chief of San Jose Police Rob Davis, appreciate you joining us. Thank you so much.



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