Juliani Cardenas — Kidnapped CA 1/18/11

missing kidnapped child Juliani Cardenas4 yo Juliani Cardenas was stolen from his grandmother’s home in Patterson, CA on Tuesday, Jan. 18. The mother’s ex-boyfriend, Jose Rodriguez, forced his way into the house about 4:12pm, pushed the grandmother to the floor and snatched the child–then made an obscene gesture while laughing and getting in the car with the crying child.

Rodriguez had made several previous attempts to grab the boy in the previous 24 hours, even going to his preschool earlier that day. But the boy was sick at home with a cold.

The Who
Rodriguez is NOT Juliani’s biological father, although he apparently became very close to the boy during his two-year relationship with Juliani’s mom Tabitha Cardenas. So he was very upset about being shut out of his life when Tabitha ended the relationship five months before, after Rodriguez physically assaulted her.

The fact he cared so much about the boy keeps her hoping that nothing bad has happened.

But during an emotional press conference this past week, Cardenas said he claimed to sometimes ‘hear voices’ and that he had been abusive toward her at other times during their relationship.

While I did not see this particular news item myself, a poster at the Scared Monkeys forum added, “His behavior up until the day of the kidnapping to me tells a story of a man who was not acting normally at all. I guess the day before he was at a relatives home and was standing and staring out the front window for a long while. He also accused his little brother of sleeping with Tabitha and he tried to strangle him.”

Jose Rodriguez, suspect on Juliani Cardenas kidnappingRodriguez also has a criminal history–having been arrested for suspected assault and battery, charged with unlawful sexual intercourse and drunken driving, and convicted of manslaughter in 1999.

So police do fear Juliani is in danger. Rodriguez was also seen on camera buying beer at a Chevron gas station about a half hour before the kidnapping.

The Search
Divers have been searching the Delta-Mondota Canal outside of Patterson since Wednesday afternoon, after a migrant worker in his 50’s came said that morning he saw a car matching the description of Rodriguez’s silver 2003 Toyota Corolla go into the canal around 5pm Tuesday–allegedly with two people, a man and boy, inside.

(Print news reports of the police spokesperson’s statements that I’ve seen say just “two people.” TV media are saying a man and a boy. So either the TV media have an inside source or they’re speculating.)

Police said they DID find fresh tire marks at the scene, but can’t be sure if they match the oversized aluminum wheels on the suspect’s Toyota.

Since then, divers have pulled five stolen cars from the water–including a silver Lexus (which they later said does NOT match the fresh tire tracks at the canal). But no the silver Toyota.

After the fifth one Saturday morning, police announced they were suspending the canal search a few days to give crews a chance to recover.
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The Delta-Mendota Canal
The canal is apparently 16 feet deep in this location, with fast moving currents from pumps upstream, which they have to get the water company to turn some of them off to even make it dive-able for short periods of time).

Add to that the fact there are, large tubes that lead into the siphon system and the canal has smooth concrete sides–and you’ve got pretty difficult and dangerous diving conditions.

Even with the borrowed $200k sonar equipment, they’ve only been able to search inside one of the tunnels leading to the siphons at this point.
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Police also announced Saturday afternoon that they’re reducing the statewide Amber Alert to a local one and will focus their search efforts within Stanislaus County.

They said they are still following leads that come in, but those are dwindling and none have panned out. Since Rodriguez also hasn’t used his cell phone or any credit cards since the kidnapping, they feel the canal is the “most probable” outcome.

***Update 1/24/11***

Just wanted to add that more info about Rodriguez’s criminal past has come in…and this may not have happened if police had done their job…

KRON 4 News is reporting that Jose Esteban Rodriguez’s violent past includes:

  • A domestic violence charge filed against him in 2008 in Santa Clara County after Rodriguez punched Juliani’s mom Tabitha three to four times in the face while she was holding a child in her hands (Juliani?).   Authorities say Rodriguez never appeared in court to answer those charges, prompting the issuing of an arrest warrant.
  • However, Stanislaus County officials had “no comment” when asked why they didn’t turn Rodriquez over to Santa Clara County on that warrant after they arrested him in 2009 on DUI charges.
  • In 2002, Rodriguez was sentenced to one year in jail and three years of probation after being caught having sex with a minor.
  • When Rodriguez was 15 years old, he was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in San Jose. He was offered a sentence in Juvenile Detention but after he failed to show up in court , the judge sent him to state prison.

Prison records show that he violated the terms of his parole FOUR times, including one time when failed to report to the parole office, and once when he was convicted of sexually assaulting a minor.

Granted, Juliani’s mom took him back and he may not have still been in jail even if they had turned him over for that 2008 warrant–but who knows? The police still need to come up with a better explanation than “no comment.”

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One Response to Juliani Cardenas — Kidnapped CA 1/18/11

  1. tlneedham says:

    My two cents…

    Questions about the witness. Wow, they’re putting a lot of stock into the farm worker’s story! In their defense, the police say his story has not changed since he first called them, and that they were holding back certain details about the tip (i.e. maybe it’s not as vague as it seems).

    Why did he wait to call them? Supposedly, the witness is an illegal immigrant but family members urged him to come forward. So the guy would seem to have nothing to gain but everything to lose. Still, if they do find the car in the canal, you’d have to wonder if their lives could have been saved if he’d called sooner….

    But he’s in his 50’s and I’m guessing he doesn’t see an eye doctor on any regular basis–so could he have really seen well enough to see there were two people in the car, which was probably moving along at a pretty good clip as it veered into the canal?

    Remember, Juliani is four and–again, I think it’s safe it assume–not in a car seat. So unless the child was standing up, could he have even seen him at all?

    I’m assuming the witness was at some distance from where they veered off, but maybe that’s something they’re holding back. It is odd they’ve searched a mile downstream and haven’t found the car though. Physics wasn’t my strong point in school, but I guess the car’s speed would make a difference.

    Questions about motivation. To me, it seems weird he would kidnap the boy and then kill the both of them. Maybe it’s one of those, “if I can’t have him, no one can” scenarios. But still–Juliani’s mom is pregnant with his child, why would he leave that child fatherless if he was so into being a dad? As the biological father, he could certainly fight for partial custody of some sort.

    It certainly seems possible that he could be holed up somewhere trying to figure out what to do. After all, he probably didn’t expect this case to get so much media attention.

    I can see where he might have (stupidly) taken the child, thinking then he’d call and say she had to take them both back if she wanted Juliani back. Not really thinking the police would get involved (or about the fact he was actually committing a crime). But now, it’s a whole different ball game and he’d have to be freaking out…

    And if he has someone helping him hide out, it’s totally possible for him to live without his credit cards or cell phone. While police say they’ve talked to his family, that doesn’t mean much. After all, they’re not going to want to get their own butts in trouble for helping him…

    But the odd behavior does make me wonder if he has an undiagnosed mental disorder. If that’s the case, there’s no telling what would make “sense” to him. And given the likelihood he was drinking, he could have accidentally gone into that canal.

    Hopefully, we’ll all know something more soon…for Juliani’s mom and grandmother’s sake.

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