A 41-year-old Bell Gardens man has been arrested after a woman whom he allegedly kidnapped, raped and held captive for nearly 10 years came forward with her story, according to Santa Ana police.
The unidentified victim, now 25, contacted police almost a decade after she was reported missing by her mother. She was forced to marry her captor and gave birth to his child, according to police.
The woman initially went to police in Bell Gardens to report a domestic dispute, according to Santa Ana police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna.
It was during that conversation she told officers she that was a missing person who had been kidnapped.
“She was in fact taken and held against her will for the past 10 years,” Bertagna said.
Isidro Garcia was taken into custody on Tuesday on suspicion of kidnapping for rape, lewd acts with a minor and false imprisonment, the Santa Ana Police Department announced Wednesday.
The victim was 15 years old in August 2004, when her mother reported that her daughter and the her live-in boyfriend went missing “after a domestic violence incident.”
The mother believed her partner, Garcia, had been sexually abusing the teen, but had no proof, according to police.
After recently contacting her sister on Facebook, the victim “eventually gained the courage to contact the police,” according to a Santa Ana Police Department news release.
She said that Garcia began sexually assaulting her in June 2004 while they both lived at the family’s home in the 800 block of South Fairview Street in Santa Ana (map). Then, in August, Garcia assaulted the mother, drugged the victim and drove her to a house in Compton, the victim told police.
The next day Garcia allegedly handed the teenager fake identification papers and told her she could never go home.
“He tells her that’s her new name, she needs to learn it, use it,” said Bertagna.
Before the kidnapping, the teen’s mother had told a neighbor that she believed her boyfriend was having sex with her daughter and that the pair was planning to leave together, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“Over the course of the following months and years, Garcia repeatedly told the victim her family had given up looking for her, and if she tried to go back to them, the family would be deported,” the news release stated.
Garcia allegedly frequently assaulted the victim sexually and physically, and the couple moved four times to avoid detection by the police, Bertagna said.
When she tried to escape, she was caught and beaten, police said.
The couple worked together at a nighttime cleaning service so that Garcia “could keep a close eye on the victim,” according to police.
“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,” the news release stated.
Garcia forced her to marry him in 2007, police said, and she bore him a child in 2012.
The teen did not speak English and had come to the U.S. from Mexico, according to Bertagna.
“The psychological part of this is … she is now taken away from her family, told that her family is not looking for her, told that her family doesn’t care,” Bertagna said. “He’s the only one there for her. She doesn’t know anybody.”
At the Bell Gardens home that they shared with their 3-year-old daughter, Guadalupe, in a courtyard apartment complex, neighbors said the woman and Garcia seemed like a happy couple. They were shocked by the allegation that the woman had been kidnapped by Garcia.
“He’s a good guy,” said Ernesto Rios, a neighbor of Garcia. “I see him every day, going to work. ‘Hi, how you been?'”
But another neighbor described Garcia as controlling when it came to his wife who she knew as Laura Ortiz.
“He wouldn’t really let her go outside,” said Maribel Garcia. “She was out for like five minutes or so and he would pull her back in.”
A “welcome” sign hung from the security door, and a stroller was left in the breezeway next to the entrance to the second-floor apartment.
The case against Garcia has been submitted to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office for consideration.
Garcia was not listed on the Orange County inmate locater website, and it was not immediately clear where he was being held.
KTLA’s Chip Yost and Rick Chambers contributed to this article.