More than a week after Jose Rodriguez snatched 4-year-old Juliani Cardenas from his grandmother’s house, police and divers are still searching the Mendota Canal for the silver Toyota. So far, they’ve brought up 10 cars, 1 truck and one motorcycle but there’s still no sign of Rodriguez and the boy.
However, we do know a little more now about why they’re so certain the two are in there:
- There are fresh tire tracks going into the canal at the location pinpointed by the witness (that’s not new)
- Canal workers also say a buoy at that spot was broken sometime between Tuesday and Wednesday morning
- The farm worker witness may have provided police with good tips on previous occasions
- He also allegedly had a close up view inside the car as he passed them in his truck, a few minutes before he saw the car go into the canal from his rear-view mirror
- No vehicle they have pulled out matches the tire tracks
In short, it’s really not looking good that the boy will be found elsewhere.
One positive development is the dealer who sold Rodriguez four new tires in April 2009 came forward and provided the receipt, so police can compare that make and model of tire to the tracks found…No word yet on how that turned out.
I’ve also learned a few more things about Rodriguez’s state of mind, which could indicate that he was highly unstable that day…
- A co-worker reported that Tabitha and Rodriguez had lunch with a group of them at her job the Friday before this happened and everything seemed fine
- But Tabitha has also said Rodriguez lost his job the week before–a potentially big stressor for anyone, especially these days
- He was also apparently very concerned that Tabitha wasn’t going to let him spend time with Juliani–which may have intensified when he tried to see the boy that morning and she sent him away
- And while no one has said it, I think it’s safe to say he may have translated that into concern that she may try to keep him from his own child (she’s 8 months pregnant)
- He “usually” just drinks, according to the mom, but has also done drugs “from time to time”
Again, it’s not looking good, but police are still trying to find leads that lead down other paths than the canal.
Update 1/29/11 —
The 13th vehicle they pulled from the canal was Rodriguez’s. He and Juliani were not inside but the front windows were rolled down and police seem pretty certain they were in the car when it went into the water. They were going back to the canal today to start looking for their bodies.
Update 2/1/11 — Found
Juliani Cardenas’ body was found in the canal this morning. No sign of Rodriguez yet–police have issued an arrest warrant in case he did get out of the car. But they feel his body will be found in the canal as well. Since he is obviously larger and heavier, it would not be surprising if it takes longer for him to surface.
Update 2/12/11 — Found
It appears the body of Juliani’s kidnapper Jose Rodriguez has been pulled from the canal, 11 miles south of where the car went in. While they’ll need DNA to make a positive identification, it matches the description of Rodriguez and there are no other missing persons it could be.
Juliani’s mom made a statement that she was relieved he’d been found in the canal and wouldn’t be around to hurt them any more. She is due to give birth to Rodriguez’s baby in several weeks.
I personally hope there’s evidence to show Rodriguez did not mean to go into the canal that day, and that perhaps he had lost control of the car while he was trying to escape with the boy.
While it certainly won’t change the outcome, I do think it would be a consolation to Rodriguez’s family and possibly a small consolation to Juliani’s family as well. I imagine no mother wants the guilt of having loved someone who could kill her son, not to mention the potential impact on her new child who would certainly find out someday that her dad purposely killed her brother.