A woman who says she was abducted a decade ago by a man who forced her to marry him and fathered her child has said she is now happy and feels blessed to be back with her family.
Police described a decade during which the now 25-year-old woman – abused mentally, physically and sexually by her captor – was moved at least four times and given multiple fake identities to hide her from family and authorities.
The woman, who has not been identified, said she often thought about escaping but was fearful of her abductor.
“I was very afraid about everything because I was alone,” she told KABC-TV.
Isidro Garcia, 41, of the Los Angeles suburb of Bell Gardens, was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping for rape, lewd acts with a minor and false imprisonment, the Santa Ana Police Department said.
His accuser – who came forward to police on Monday after finding her sister on Facebook – told the station her neighbours believed her captor was a good man because he worked hard.
“He worked hard for me and my daughter and he bought everything I want. But I didn’t want that,” she said with her mother, sister and daughter at her side. “I need love from my family, not things.”
KABC-TV did not identify the woman because she is a victim of sexual abuse. The station had interviewed the woman’s mother when she went missing 10 years ago.
In Bell Gardens – 20 miles from where the girl originally vanished – stunned neighbours who knew the suspect as Tomas Medrano found the woman’s portrait of him hard to reconcile with the man they knew.
“He treats her like a queen. He does his best to do whatever she wants,” next-door neighbour Maria Sanchez said after police announced Garcia’s arrest.
The case comes just over a year after kidnapping and rape victims Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, three women who had gone missing separately about a decade earlier while in their teens or early 20s, were rescued from a house in Cleveland, Ohio.
Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped from her Utah bedroom at 14 and held captive for nine months, said people cannot know what victims are going through.