Suspects in San Jose baby kidnapping tried three times before, DA says
SAN JOSE, Calif. - The two people charged with kidnapping a 3-month-old baby in San Jose last month had tried to take the baby multiple times before, the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office said.
The district attorney's office on Thursday brought additional kidnapping charges against Yesenia Ramirez, 43, and Jose Portillo, 28, accused of abducting baby Brandon on April 25. Brandon was found unharmed the next day.
Authorities believe Ramirez helped hatched the plan to kidnap the child after befriending the baby's grandmother at church and becoming obsessed with him.
Prosecutors revealed on Thursday that the suspects plotted and unsuccessfully attempted to kidnap baby Brandon at least three other times, dating back weeks before the actual kidnapping.
"It’s absolutely shocking. This is any parents worst nightmare," said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Rebekah Wise.
An attorney for Ramirez said no hardcore evidence for those charges has been presented
"There’s a difference between allegations and facts. We have allegations right now. The actually factual evidence that underlies these charges has not been provided," said Ramirez's defense attorney Cody Salfen.
However, San Jose police detectives said evidence from text messages showed the pair had tried to carry out three crime several times before.
"There have been multiple attempts to kidnap Brandon since the beginning of March. And that they have been planning, coordinating, and attempting to kidnap him since the beginning of March," said Wise.
Prosecutors said in one attempt Portillo posed as a Child Protective Services worker who was there to take custody of the baby. But the family was suspicious and refused to turn the child over.
The boy's family did call CPS and the agency stated that they had not sent anyone to remove Brandon from the home, authorities said.
"Ramirez was present at the victim’s home when this happened. Evidence showed that the two suspects plotted this attempt on March 14," the district attorney's office said in a statement.
In the two other attempts, Ramirez and Portillo planned to kidnap Brandon at a local Walmart, once on March 28, and once the morning on the day of the actual kidnappings, authorities said. Both those attempts failed.
"In the first attempt, they were unable to switch shopping carts in an effort for Portillo to leave the store with Brandon. On the second occasion, they were unable to distract Brandon’s grandmother," the district attorney's office said.
The pair ultimately did kidnap the child, touching off a near 20-hour search. Brandon was found Apr. 26 at a home near Regional Medical Center in San Jose and eventually reunited with his mother.
Both defendants in the case are being held without bail. There will be a plea hearing on June 7.