SANTA ANA, Calif. – A woman who was 15 when she disappeared from her California home a decade ago contacted police and told them she was kidnapped by a man who sexually assaulted her, forced her into marriage and fathered a child with her, authorities said Wednesday.
Police arrested Isidro Garcia, 41, of Bell Gardens, on suspicion of kidnapping for rape, lewd acts with a minor and false imprisonment, according to a statement from the Santa Ana Police Department.
In 2004, when the victim was 15 and had recently arrived in the United States without legal documentation, Garcia was dating her mother and lived with the family, authorities said. The mother suspected he was sexually abusing her daughter, police said.
In August 2004, Garcia assaulted the mother, drugged the girl and then fled with her to a house in Compton, locking her in a garage, the statement said.
Garcia provided the girl with false identification and used physical and emotional abuse to prevent her from fleeing, police said. Garcia repeatedly told the victim her family had stopped searching for her and that they would be deported if she tried to leave, the statement said.
They also moved frequently to avoid being found, police said.
“Even with the opportunity to escape, after years of physical and mental abuse, the victim saw no way out of her situation and lived a life with Garcia under sustained physical and mental abuse,” police said in a written statement.
In 2007, Garcia got false identification papers for her from Mexico so he could marry her, Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said. They married at a courthouse, he said.
Those documents were just one instance of what police described as elaborate efforts Garcia made to hide her age and name.
In 2012, he fathered a child with her.
Garcia secured two jobs for them on a night cleaning crew so he could keep watch over her, authorities said. Bertagna said she tried to escape twice but was severely beaten.
The now-25-year-old woman, whose identity is not being released, first contacted authorities Monday. Police said she came forward to police after finding her sister on Facebook.
She has been reunited with her mother.
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 had 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.