- Isidro Garcia, 41, was arrested Tuesday on charges he drugged then dragged away his victim from her home in 2004
- She would not see family again until this week, when she says she finally got the courage to flee following years of physical and sexual abuse
- Victim describes decade as a ‘nightmare’, adding she was ‘never alone’
- Police say Garcia convinced her that her family had stopped searching
- He also said she would be deported to Mexico if she ever returned home
- Woman recently found her sister’s profile while browsing on Facebook
- This led her to finally contact the police and tell them about her ordeal
A woman who claims to have been kidnapped and held captive for 10 years under a regime of rape and violence has spoken about her ordeal for the first time.
The 25-year-old, who is refusing to be identified, described the last decade as a ‘nightmare’, adding that she had been unable to resist the kidnapping because: ‘I was 15, I couldn’t do anything’.
The Santa Ana Police Department said yesterday that they have booked her alleged captor, Isidro Garcia, 41, on suspicion of kidnapping for rape, lewd acts with a minor, and false imprisonment.
Under the radar: Neighbors say Isidro Garcia was a doting family man who sacrificed and worked two jobs to provide for his wife and daughter
Unthinkable: One neighbor described Garcia and the wife police believe he brainwashed into living with him for a decade and even having his baby as the ‘perfect couple’
Fearful: Though the smiles and happy pictures, police see a woman who was too terrified to go to authorities for years in the belief she or her family would be deported
Nabbed: Santa Ana police arrested Isidro Garcia on Tuesday on suspicion of kidnapping for rape, lewd acts with a minor and false imprisonment. A woman he allegedly held captive for nearly 10 years in a garage beginning when she was just 15 years old named Garcia as her captor
With her three-year-old daughter in her arms, the woman spoke exclusively to ABC News last night.
Describing her relief at being free, she said: ‘I’m so happy and God-blessed to be with my family. That’s what I want all the time. All the time, I cry for them, more for my mom and my sisters’.
Police say the victim’s mother was dating Garcia, who was living with her family in 2004, when he drugged her daughter and kept her away from everything she ever knew for the next decade.
The mother is said to have reported her daughter missing and told officers she suspected Garcia of sexually abusing her, but was unable to provide evidence.
The alleged victim tried to escape at least twice, she told police, but was always caught by her captor and then beaten.
The woman said that their neighbours in Compton, California thought Garcia was a ‘great man’ because he was hard-working.
‘He worked hard for me and my daughter and he bought everything I want, but I need love of my family, not things,’ she said.
‘I was very afraid about everything, because I was alone. I (thought) I was alone, but I never was. My family was with me,’ she added.
The woman’s mother said Garcia must now pay for his alleged crimes, adding that she is relieved to have been reunited with her daughter.
‘I’m happy. God is everything,’ she said.
The victim had come to the United States from Mexico to reunite with her mother and sister just six months prior to the alleged abduction.
Police say she ran to a park near her new Santa Ana home back in 2004 after a domestic dispute. Garcia met her there and when she said she had a headache and wanted to go home, he allegedly gave her pills.
Garcia allegedly forced the victim to marry him in 2007 and she soon bore his child
The next thing the victim recalls is waking up locked in a garage in Compton. And her nightmare of helplessness and brutality, police say, had only just begun.
The next day, the victim recalls Garcia handing her a fake ID and telling her she’ll never see home again.
‘The psychological part of this is,’ Santa Ana Police Corporal Anthony Bertagna explained to KTLA, ‘she is now taken away from her family, told that her family is not looking for her, told that her family doesn’t care…He’s the only one there for her. She doesn’t know anybody.’
‘He tells her that’s her new name, she needs to learn it, use it,’ Bertagna said.
Police are steadfastly behind the victim’s story of years of brainwashing and imprisonment, but Garcia’s dumbfounded neighbors seem completely blindsided by the sick revelations.
‘He treats her like a queen. He does his best to do whatever she wants,’ said a shocked Maria Sanchez, who lived next to the couple’s corner apartment in the immigrant neighborhood.
The family was known in the community because they worked and worshipped near their home. They also threw elaborate parties that included costumed characters and raffle giveaways.
A video shot at their daughter’s birthday party last year shows the mother in a long dress with the girl in her arms, line dancing behind her husband as he wiggles his hips.
Dumbstruck: Neighbor Maria Sanchez holds a Jan. 29, 2012 photo of her neighbor Isidro Garcia at his daughter’s third birthday at Bell Gardens church. Maria said they appeared to outsiders to be ‘the perfect couple’
‘He does his best to do whatever she wants’: Neighbors Enrique Rios, left, and wife, Lourdes Hernandez express their disbelieve on the charges against their neighbor, Isidro Garci in Bell Gardens, California. Meanwhile, police maintain she was brainwashed all along
Was this her prison? The home of suspect Isidro Garcia, the top floor, left apartment “G” is photographed in Bell Gardens, California on Wednesday,
Garcia was booked for kidnap for rape, and lewd acts with a minor and false Imprisonment after his alleged victim summoned up the courage to go to police. She’d been in the United States just 6 months when she says she was abducted
Neighbors, who knew Garcia as Tomas Madrano said Garcia worked two jobs and collected recyclables to supplement the family’s income and buy the woman a car.
‘Sometimes she just leaves with her daughter in the car. She never looked scared,’ Sanchez said.
Rita Salazar, who lives across the street from the family, said she never saw any signs of trouble.
‘I’m astounded she waited so long to say something,’ Salazar said.
Another neighbor, a nanny who lived downstairs who called herself Maria, told NBC LA that Garcia and the victim made the ‘perfect couple.’
But police see a logic in the woman’s apparent years of inaction.
‘This is a 15-year-old girl that’s only been in the country for six months. She doesn’t know where to go, she doesn’t know what to do, she’s in a strange city — he’s all she’s got,’ Bertagna said at a news conference. ‘That’s when the brainwashing starts.’
According to the release, Garcia was living with the victim and her family in June 2004 when he began to sexually assault her.
At the time, the victim’s mother suspected, but did not know for sure, that her daughter was being raped by Garcia.
THOSE WHO BEAT ALL ODDS TO MAKE IT HOME: THE UNTHINKABLE SAGAS OF NOTABLE KIDNAP VICTIM
The discovery of a woman who was 15 when she disappeared from her California home a decade ago is the latest case of a missing person being found many years later. Here are other noteworthy abductions:
AMANDA BERRY, GINA DeJESUS, MICHELLE KNIGHT
The three women went missing separately in Cleveland between 2002 and 2004. On May 6, 2013, Berry broke through a locked door at their captor’s home, yelled to neighbors for help and called police. Ariel Castro, a 53-year-old former school bus driver, hanged himself in prison on Sept. 3 after pleading guilty and being sentenced to life plus 1,000 years in prison. Berry gave birth to a daughter fathered by their captor; the girl was 6 when they escaped.
Dugard was abducted in June 1991 on her way to school in South Lake Tahoe, California. Then 11, she was held for 18 years by Phillip and Nancy Garrido. She was raped repeatedly by Garrido and gave birth to two daughters. Dugard was freed in 2009 after she and her two children appeared in public with him and a police interrogation revealed her identity. Convicted of kidnapping and rape, Garrido was sentenced to 431 years in prison. His wife received a sentence of 36 years to life.
‘I’m praying for her’: Elizabeth Smart, who was snatched from her bedroom in Salt Lake City in June 2002 by Brian David Mitchell, lent her support to the victim Wednesday
At age 14, Smart was snatched from her bedroom in Salt Lake City in June 2002 by Brian David Mitchell, who did odd jobs for the family. Tormented over nine months by Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee, Smart was freed after she was recognized in March 2003 while in public with both of them. He is serving a life sentence, and Barzee is serving 16 years in prison.
Fritzl disappeared from her town of Amstetten, Austria, in 1984 at age 18. In 2008, she re-emerged 24 years later from the dungeon-like basement chamber where her father, Josef, had kept her captive. He raped her thousands of times. She bore him seven children, one of which died in captivity after Josef Fritzl refused to allow medical treatment. Josef Fritzl was sentenced to life in a prison psychiatric ward in March 2009. Elisabeth Fritzl and her children were given new identities.
In October 2002, Hornbeck – then 11 – was kidnapped while riding his bike to a friend’s house in Washington County, Missouri. In January 2007, authorities found Hornbeck and another kidnapped boy, Ben Ownby, in the suburban St. Louis apartment of Michael Devlin. Ownby, 13, had been abducted four days earlier. Devlin was sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and abusing the boys.
Kampusch was kidnapped in 1998 off the street in Vienna at age 10. She managed to escape in 2006 but only after spending eight years as a captive, mostly in a tiny basement enclosure. She was abused by her abductor, Wolfgang Priklopil, who committed suicide soon after Kampusch freed herself.
The 7-year-old boy was kidnapped in 1972 while walking home from school in Merced, California. After Stayner escaped captivity in 1980, Kenneth Eugene Parnell was convicted of kidnapping him and a second boy, 5-year-old Timmy White, and sentenced to seven years in prison. Stayner died in a motorcycle accident in 1989 at age 24.
A neighbor of the family’s told the LA Times that the victim’s mother worried Garcia would make off with her daughter before the abduction allegedly occurred.
‘I spoke to her mom about God,’ Silvia Suarez, 54, said in Spanish at the complex, which she still calls home. ‘She said she was having problems with her partner. She believed he was romancing her daughter.’
Later in the summer of 2004, Garcia allegedly drugged his young victim and drove her to a home in Compton, California, where he locked her in a garage as he gathered falsified ID for the victim.
Garcia would move her to at least four area cities under various assumed names, Bertagna told reporters.
The property manager at Villa del Sol, the complex from which the victim disappeared, recalled to the LA Times speaking to her mother after she was gone.
‘She couldn’t understand how her daughter could leave,’ recalled Araceli Ochoa. ‘I am very excited that they found her but it’s still a tragedy that she has to live with this every day now…Each day with him probably felt like 100 years to her.’
Over the next several years, Garcia manipulated his victim into believing her family had given up the search and that if she tried to go back to them, they would be deported, reads the statement.
Police say Garcia frequently physically and sexually assaulted the victim over the next almost decade she was imprisoned. Garcia moved them from home to home on several occasions in order to avoid detection.
Where it began: Police say Garcia lived with the victim and her family at this Orange County apartment complex when he allegedly dragged her away in August 2007
Scene: News vans line the Orange County complex where Garcia allegedly drugged his then 15-year-old victim before kidnapping her.
Saved: Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, Public Information Officer for the Santa Ana Police Department describes how missing girl was located after 10 years during a media briefing outside the police station Wednesday
Garcia and his alleged victim worked at a night cleaning service that police say the rapist chose in order to keep a more watchful eye on his victim.
He forced her to marry him in 2007, according to the release and she later bore Garcia’s child.
The woman, now 25, came forward to police after finding her sister on Facebook and told her story to officers on Tuesday, according to the police statement.
According to ABC7, she entered a police station with her young child around 4am to report that her husband had abused her, but did not immediately mention the kidnapping.
Upon questioning, she revealed her unbelievable tale.
It wasn’t clear if Garcia, who has not been formally charged, had an attorney. The case has been presented to the Orange County district attorney’s office for consideration.
His arrest comes just over a year after kidnapping and rape victims Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, three women who’d gone missing separately about a decade earlier while in their teens or early 20s, were rescued from a house in Cleveland.
Their captor, Ariel Castro, hanged himself in prison in September 2013 at the beginning of a life sentence plus 1,000 years.