A Los Angeles city official and police were hoping that a $50,000 reward would help lead to the arrest of a “dangerous” man accused of kidnapping his 2-year-old son.
Edwin Vargas was allegedly abducted by his father, Abraham Vargas, on May 23 from Boyle Heights, according to Los Angeles Police Department officials.
The toddler was sitting in his mother’s minivan while she picked up another child in the 1000 block of Lorena Street (map) when Vargas allegedly jumped into the vehicle and drove off with the boy, according to police.
The toddler’s mother, Beatrice Perez, had a restraining order on file, according to LAPD Capt. Gerardo Lopez.
A statewide Amber Alert was subsequently issued.
The van was found about five hours later in East Los Angeles, but the father and toddler were gone.
Vargas, 27, was described as 5 feet 5 inches tall and 180 pounds.
Police initially believed he may have headed to Mexico with his son, based on previous statement he had made, but they said on Tuesday that he was likely still in the Boyle Heights area.
He had been seen in the area of Roosevelt High School, the 60 Freeway underpass at Lorena Avenue and at the East L.A. King Taco at Third Street and Ford Boulevard, according to an LAPD flyer.
It was believed that Vargas has changed his appearance, and could have a shaved head and a goatee, authorities said during the news conference.
The reward, sponsored by L.A. City Councilman Jose Huizar, was being offered for information leading to the safe return of Edwin and the arrest and prosecution of Vargas. It was announced at 9 a.m. outside the LAPD’s Hollenbeck Station.
It would be formally offered during the L.A. City Council Meeting later that night, according to Huizar.
“We are here today to plea for the public’s help in helping arrest what we consider a dangerous man,” Huizar said at the news conference.
He added that any bit of information the public might have could help in the investigation.
“No matter how small you may think that little piece of information is, you never know if it could lead us to crack the case,” he said.
The family was also at the news conference and pleaded for Vargas to return Edwin to his mother.
“That’s the only thing we want,” Perez’s sister said. “That’s the only thing we’re asking — is for the community to help us find him.”
During the news conference, LAPD Capt. Martin Baeza said Vargas was also under investigation for allegedly having unlawful sex with a minor.
Baeza did not offer any other details about the newly revealed investigation.
Anyone with any information about Vargas’ whereabouts was asked to call 911.
KTLA’s Kennedy Ryan and Ashley Soley-Cerro contributed to this report.