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May 23, 2014

Mother told kidnapped woman to go to police

SANTA ANA, Calif. — A California woman who says she was kidnapped a decade ago by her mother’s boyfriend lived a seemingly ordinary life with her alleged captor year after year, but she was too scared to go to authorities until she recently reunited with her mother, police said Thursday.

The woman, who disappeared when she was 15, eventually married the man and started a family with him. Neighbors said she took Zumba classes and went on trips to the beach and Disneyland.

Orange County prosecutors on Thursday filed five felony charges against the alleged abductor, Isidro Garcia, including rape and kidnapping to commit a sexual offense. He did not enter a plea, and his arraignment was continued until June 9. He was jailed on $1 million bail.

Garcia’s attorney said the woman’s claims of physical and sexual abuse are lies made up because the couple is separating. Neighbors in a working-class city south of Los Angeles described an outwardly happy family, while authorities and psychologists cautioned that both could be true — Garcia could have been a doting husband who controlled his wife without physically restraining her through years of abuse.

The case began to emerge Monday, when the woman went two blocks from her apartment complex to the police department in working-class Bell Gardens and accused Garcia of domestic violence. During that conversation, officers learned of her connection to a 2004 missing-persons case in Santa Ana, about 20 miles away.

Santa Ana police interviewed both Garcia, 41, and the woman and concluded that the husband had been sexually abusing her a decade ago and kidnapped her after a fight with her mother, who was his girlfriend at the time.

After holding her captive, Garcia moved at least four times and gave her multiple fake identities to hide her from family and authorities, Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said.

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