Police: Mother who fled to Mexico after killing 3-year-old daughter in 1993 arrested in Oxnard


A woman who was on the run for nearly 30 years following the death of her toddler in East Palo Alto was arrested this week in Oxnard, officials said Wednesday.

Yolanda Ortega, now 54, fled to Mexico shortly after the 3-year-old girl was found unresponsive in the family’s home the morning of June 28, 1993, East Palo Alto police said in a news release.

The girl was taken to the Stanford University Medical Center for treatment but died within an hour. Her siblings — 1, 4 and 17 days old — were taken into protective custody, according to police.

The Mercury News identified the girl as Yvani Sanchez, and said archives show coroner’s officials determined she died from “multiple traumatic injuries.”

But by the time investigators ruled her death a homicide, Ortega had fled to Mexico with her husband, police said.

Detectives have continued working to locate Ortega, and on Tuesday U.S. Marshals tracked her to a shopping center in Oxnard. She was arrested in the parking lot around 5:30 p.m., authorities said.

She remained in custody Wednesday on $10 million bail at the Ventura County jail, booking records show.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told the Mercury News that Ortega is facing a murder charge. The inmate records show she’s also accused of willful cruelty to a child likely to produce great bodily injury or death.

“She lived half her life on the run. Even though it’s been 27 years, we still think we have witnesses available and the evidence available to the prove the case,” Wagstaffe said.

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