4 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.
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.”
Rodriguez 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”