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This article was published 21/5/2014 (824 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
SANTA ANA, Calif. -- A woman who disappeared as a teenager a decade ago was reunited with her family after she went to police and told them her mother's ex-boyfriend drugged and kidnapped her in 2004, forced her to marry him and fathered her child.
Isidro Garcia, 41, was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping for rape, lewd acts with a minor and false imprisonment, the Santa Ana Police Department police said.
Police described a decade during which the victim -- 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.
Garcia allegedly told her her family had stopped trying to find her, and if she tried to contact them they would be deported.
"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.
Neighbours were stunned, describing them as a seemingly happy couple who doted on their young daughter and liked to host parties at their apartment in the working-class community of Bell Gardens, about 30 kilometres from where she originally disappeared.
"He treats her like a queen. He does his best to do whatever she wants," next-door neighbour Maria Sanchez said in Spanish.
The now-25-year-old woman, whose identity is not being released, first contacted authorities Monday -- the same day Garcia was first arrested. Police said she came forward to police after finding her sister on Facebook.
Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna said his department's investigation concluded the following:
The girl arrived from Mexico in February 2004 to join her mother and sister in Santa Ana, about 50 kilometres southeast of downtown Los Angeles. She had entered the United States illegally and spoke no English.
Garcia was her mother's boyfriend. After one fight between the girl's mother and Garcia in August 2004, the girl's mother left the house and the girl went to a nearby park.
Garcia followed the girl. When he caught up with her, she said she had a headache and wanted to go home.
Garcia began threatening the girl and gave her five pills he said would help her headache but instead knocked her out.
When the girl awoke, she was locked in a garage in Compton, a city between Santa Ana and Los Angeles.
The mother "filed a police report and for 10 years (police) did due diligence. But they were changing their names and dates of birth and physical locations so that made it exceedingly difficult," Bertagna said.
In 2007, Garcia got documents from Mexico that gave the girl a new name and date of birth. Using those documents, he married her at a courthouse. He fathered a girl with her in 2012.
Garcia secured two jobs for them on a night cleaning crew so he could keep watch over her. She tried to escape twice but was severely beaten.
Recently, she found her sister on Facebook and they started to communicate. She also learned her mother had tried to find her, going to a Spanish-language television station and newspaper in 2004.
Police arrested Garcia on Monday during a traffic stop in Bell Gardens. On Tuesday, Santa Ana police arrested him on the kidnapping and other charges.
-- The Associated Press