June 16, 2006

A toddler allegedly kidnapped from her Linda Vista home Saturday after her mother was stabbed to death has been found safe in Mexico, authorities announced yesterday.

The FBI and Mexican authorities found 19-month-old Alejandra Gomez Wednesday night at a home in Puebla, about 60 miles southeast of Mexico City.

Gildardo Rosas Rodriguez, 31, suspected of kidnapping the child and killing her mother, Emilia Gomez, 23, remains at large, San Diego police homicide Lt. Kevin Rooney said.

Police said Rodriguez, Gomez's estranged husband, is not the girl's father. The couple, both Mexican citizens, reportedly lived together in San Diego before the child was born. Gomez then moved to an Ulric Street duplex in Linda Vista, and Rodriguez was believed to be living in Mexico.

Investigators alerted federal agencies throughout the Southwest to be on the lookout for Rodriguez's 1985 Honda Accord in case he tried to drive across the border.

Alejandra Gomez is in the custody of Mexican officials, the FBI said.
Rooney said his investigative team had been in touch with FBI agents in Mexico several times a day since Sunday. He wouldn't say how authorities came to focus on the home in Puebla.

“Our team developed information that Mr. Rodriguez was in that region of southern Mexico,” Rooney said.

The FBI notified Rooney's team Wednesday night that the toddler was recovered unharmed and was in the custody of Mexican officials.

“We don't get to share much good news in this unit,” Rooney said.

Rooney said he does not know who owns or lives in the house where the child was found, or how long she was there.

The Mexican Consulate is working with San Diego police and county Child Protective Services to return the girl to San Diego this weekend. Child Protective Services then will decide what to do with her, Rooney said.

Alejandra has no family in the United States, but she is a U.S. citizen. Her mother's parents in Guerrero, Mexico, know she has been found, Rooney said.

Rodriguez was seen leaving Gomez's duplex with the child Saturday night, police said. They left in his charcoal-gray Accord, with California license plate 1MGA355.

Gomez's body was found in the home by her roommate early the next morning. Police issued an Amber Alert for the toddler through Southern California on Sunday.
A $1 million arrest warrant charging Rodriguez with kidnapping was issued Tuesday in San Diego. The warrant does not charge him with killing Gomez, but “he is a suspect in the murder,” Rooney said.

Authorities have not found the Honda, nor has a car with that license plate been recorded at any border crossing into Mexico, Rooney said. He said he doesn't know if Rodriguez reached Puebla by car, bus or plane. He estimated it would be a three-day drive there from San Diego.

Rooney said that if Rodriguez is arrested in Mexico, he will seek a provisional arrest warrant through the U.S. State Department, which would then work with Mexican federal authorities to have Rodriguez returned to the United States. Evidence against him would be presented in Mexico City, and officials there would decide whether to hand him over to San Diego authorities for prosecution.

“We believe he's in that region (Puebla), or at least has been in the last 18 to 24 hours,” Rooney said last night. “It's a reasonable assumption he left the little girl at that residence.

“The FBI is there, and hopefully there will be an arrest.”