Carolina Ayala’s three-month-old infant son was kidnapped from his family’s San Francisco Bay Area home this past Monday—and the alleged kidnapper is Yesenia Ramirez (43), a woman Ayala met at church.
According to Ayala, Ramirez wasn’t a stranger to the family’s home. In fact, Ayala shared that her baby’s kidnapper had spent a lot of time with them since the ninth month of her pregnancy.
Ayala, who was working at the time of her baby’s kidnapping, told KTST-TV that Ramirez “would go to my house a lot. She always wanted to be there.”
Ramirez was arrested along with accomplices. Her husband Baldomeo Sandoval and Jose Portillo (28) are apprehended less than 24 hours after the baby, named Brandon, was taken from his family’s second-floor apartment. The child was taken as his grandmother Victoria Mejia was putting away groceries from the car parked outside.
The San José Police department announced Thursday that they released Sandoval after new details came to light. Sandoval will not face any charges at this time. Ramirez and Portillo are being held without bail and have been charged with kidnapping, felony burglary, and conspiracy charges.
NBC Bay Area reported that church members were “stunned” when they heard that Ramirez had been arrested and accused of such a crime. Ramirez and Sandoval have an adult daughter and a granddaughter and described the husband and wife to be “decent and hard-working” by those who attend their church.
The police said that a “preliminary investigation revealed an unknown male suspect, later identified as Jose Roman Portillo, had unlawfully entered the residence and kidnapped the infant. An initial canvass of the area revealed video surveillance footage of the suspect arriving at the victim’s residence with a child car seat in hand.”
The morning before the kidnapping, Ramirez offered to purchase supplies for the baby and drove the grandmother and baby Brandon to the store. Mejia shared with police that Ramirez was talking with Portillo just moment before he kidnapped baby Brandon.
“I felt like half of my heart had left with him. I felt like I died,” Ayala said explaining how she felt when she received the phone call from her sister-in-law telling her the baby was missing.
After the infant was safely found by police and reunited with his mother, Ayala said it was like “having my soul return to my body. I cried out of joy. I cried until I got tired of crying.”
Chief of Police Anthony Mata said, “This incident is a parent’s worst nightmare, and we are fortunate that we have the best department in the nation that helped bring forward a positive outcome. This case yet again highlights the dedication and commitment of our women and men who go above and beyond every day to keep our community safe.”
“I’d like to also thank our partners at the FBI, as well as the Santa Clara County Search and Rescue team for providing additional valuable resources,” Mata said.
The motive for baby Brandon’s kidnapping is still under investigation.