||Here are a few recent stories related to the kinds of issues we cover on the web site. They'll represent a small percentage of the information available to us, the public, as we fight to provide meaningful recovery services and help for those who've suffered child abuse. We'll add to and update this page regularly.
We'll also present stories about the criminals and criminal acts that impact our communities all across the nation. The few we place on this page are the tip of the iceberg, and we ask you to check your local newspapers and law enforcement sites. Stay aware. Every extra set of "eyes and ears" makes a big difference.
JAN - Week 3
Carlina White - 3 weeks old - 1987
Carlina White - 23 yrs old - 2011
Woman Abducted as Infant in 1987 Meets Family
by ANAHAD O'CONNOR and AL BAKER
It was an abduction that made headlines and stunned the authorities: A 3-week-old infant, taken to a Manhattan hospital in August 1987 for treatment of a fever, was snatched by a woman dressed in nurse's clothes and never heard from again.
Two decades later, with investigators stumped and the case cold, the parents of the abducted girl refused to give up hope, believing that someday their daughter might return.
Their prayers were answered.
Carlina White, now 23 and living in Georgia, was reunited on Friday with her biological parents, Joy White and Carl Tyson, bringing an end to one of the most baffling missing persons cases in the New York Police Department's files. The reunion brought elation to a mother and father racked by pain and anger for over two decades, and a new family for a woman who had long held suspicions about her past.
On Friday, Carlina White and her biological family met for the first time since her abduction, at the Bronx home of Sheena White, an 18-year-old half-sister who until recently Carlina did not know she had.“We spoke and got to know each other, and she looks exactly like my mom,” Sheena White said. “It felt like we knew each other before we met.”
The improbable case began on Aug. 4, 1987, when Carlina, 19 days old, was taken to Harlem Hospital with a fever. About two hours after being admitted, Carlina disappeared from a pediatrics ward, and detectives quickly narrowed in on a mysterious woman who had consoled Carlina's worried mother and had been seen lingering around the hospital in a nurse's uniform.
A suspect was later questioned but could not be connected to the abduction.
“We had a description, back then, of a woman who picked up the baby who acted as if she belonged there, or worked there,” Paul J. Browne, a police spokesman, said Wednesday. “Obviously, it has been an open investigation; some leads did not work out, and obviously had not resulted in her being found.”
Carlina was taken to Connecticut and then Georgia, the police said, raised under a different name by a woman who treated her poorly. Carlina's suspicions started to grow around her 16th birthday, partly “because the family and her don't resemble each other,” Sheena White said.
Mr. Browne said, “She has held the view, for a long time, that she did not belong to the family she was living with.”
As her suspicions grew, Carlina White started to investigate, at one point visiting the Web site of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. It was on that site, Mr. Browne said, where she found a photo of an infant and believed it was a photo of herself.
She then called her biological mother, Joy White, who in turn called the police, not knowing if the young woman really was her daughter.
The call was routed to Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly's liaison unit, where Detective Martin A. Brown answered.
“She was reaching out to the N.Y.P.D. because she knew the N.Y.P.D. had taken a report on it and wanted to know if we could assist to match some of the DNA,” Detective Brown said Wednesday.
Detective Brown said Ms. White's story “sounded very unusual and very dramatic,” and so he decided not to simply refer her to the department's missing persons' investigators. Rather, he called them himself to relay the details. Those investigators eventually took DNA samples from Joy White and Carl Tyson, who separated years ago and went on to raise separate families, and checked their DNA against Carlina's.
“The daughter's natural instincts were confirmed with DNA swabs,” Mr. Browne said. The detectives from the original case, he added, “are elated.”
“It has always bothered them that this kid was never found,” he said.
Mr. Browne said the case was still an active criminal investigation and would not discuss or name any suspects.
“Obviously the missing-person aspect of it is closed, but the abduction part of it is not,” he said. “We have our suspicions of who may be responsible, but not enough probable cause to permit an arrest.”
Detectives got the official word of the DNA match on Tuesday night. But even before then, Carlina White and her biological family felt so strongly about their connection that they did not wait for the test results: They reunited on Friday night in the Bronx. She could not be immediately reached for comment. On her Twitter account, she noted that she planned to move to New York City and was looking forward “to Sunday dinner.”
Her mother, who always contended that her daughter was alive and even used Carlina White's name as her e-mail address, was overwhelmed.
“I know that she never gave up,” Sheena White said.
Police search California canal for boy swiped from grandmother's arms
(CNN) -- Authorities snared yet another large object in a California canal Friday night that they feared contained a 4-year-old boy and the man who allegedly snatched him from his grandmother's arms.
Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson told HLN's Jean Casarez that he believes the object found in the 17-foot-deep Delta-Mendota Canal is a car. Divers will examine it firsthand into the night, to determine if it is the same silver car a witness claimed he saw being driven into the water with a young boy trapped inside.
"We simply don't want to quit," Christianson said of the late-night operation. "We want to bring (Juliani Cardenas) home safely, but we have to absolutely clear this canal and make sure there's nothing here."
Jose Esteban Rodriguez snatched the boy from his grandmother's arms Tuesday afternoon in the northern California town of Patterson, police said.
A day later, a witness -- described by Christianson as a farm worker "very familiar with that area" in his 50s -- saw a vehicle that looked like Rodriguez's 2003 silver Toyota Corolla being plunging into the canal with a man and youngster inside.
"We're certain that we're going to find a car," Christianson said. "All the other tips and leads have been unfounded, (and) all of the evidence leads us here. The tips and leads aren't leading us in any other direction."
The boy's mother, Tabitha Cardenas, said Friday that she still believed that Rodriguez -- whom she broke up with about five months ago, and who is the father of her unborn child -- wouldn't purposefully drive her son into the water and that both were still alive.
"My hopes are high that they're not going to find Jose's car in the canal," she told HLN's Jean Casarez.
With night descended over the area, dive teams will work "by feel" to find out more about the object and proceed with a "drag operation" to pull it to shore, the sheriff said.
"The water is very cold, very fast, so this operation has to be done with extreme caution," said Christianson. "(The divers) will connect a line to the car, and then a tow truck will wrench the car out of the water."
If it is a car, it would be the third discovered by Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department deputies -- working in conjunction with a dive team from nearby Merced County -- since they began searching the canal this week.
Earlier in the day, they pulled out another vehicle that they determined to be a Ford Mustang. The find on Friday night was about a mile away, in a different part of the canal.
Christianson said there's been "no electronic signature of any kind" from Rodriguez since the boy's abduction, meaning no evidence of cell phone, credit card or debit card use.
The sheriff also told reporters that, despite getting "hundreds" of tips, "there are no other credible leads that are taking us in a different direction."
Tabitha Cardenas said Friday that Rodriguez either wanted to have her son for himself or wanted "revenge" against her, for their break-up. She said that she ended their relationship because he was physically abusive to her, but said that she never thought he'd harm Juliani.
"He (Rodriguez) wanted to be with my son," Tabitha Cardenas told reporters. "He wanted to be with my son so bad that he took it to the extreme."
In an emotional press conference Thursday, the boy's mother said she believes Rodriguez is troubled -- claiming he told her that he sometimes "hears voices" and that he had been abusive when they were dating -- but she did not think he would drown her son or consciously put him in danger. Rodriguez is not the boy's biological father.
"He's scared, Jose's scared -- I know he is," said Cardenas. "He probably doesn't know what to do."
The suspect had come to Cardenas' house early Tuesday morning, according to the boy's mother, leaving after she told him to leave because Juliani was asleep and had a cold. The boy's school later called Tabitha Cardenas after Rodriguez had gone there asking to spend time with the boy.
In the late afternoon, Cardenas got a call from her frantic mother, who claimed that the Rodriguez had again come by and, despite her struggle, had taken the boy from the grandmother's arms. Cardenas said that her mother told her that the suspect then flashed an obscene gesture, laughed and got into his Toyota, which he had left running.
The boy, Juliani, was 3 feet, 6 inches tall, weighs 40 pounds and has brown eyes and black hair, according to the Amber Alert. He was wearing dark pants and a light blue shirt at the time of his abduction.
Rodriguez, 27, is described in the same alert as being a Hispanic male, about 180 pounds and 5 feet, 9 inches tall.
Earlier Friday, Christianson admitted that the fact new leads have slowed to a trickle and probes into existing ones have largely fallen flat are starting to take their toll.
"This is getting frustrating," he said. "It's like riding a roller coaster: You think you're going to be able to bring closure to the case, then suddenly ... once again, we've recovered probably another stolen vehicle."
Still, a hopeful Tabitha Cardenas pleaded late Friday for Rodriguez to take care of her son and give him the chance to get home.
"Jose, you're all out of money, c'mon," she said. "You need to take Juliani to a hospital, leave him at a gas station, I don't care where you leave him. Leave him somewhere ... and just take off."
"I don't care where (Rodriguez) goes, I just want my son back."
Jose Esteban Rodriguez
Amber Alert issued after Patterson boy taken from grandma
PATTERSON — Authorities Tuesday evening were looking for a 27-year-old man suspected of abducting a 4-year-old boy from his grandmother's home.
Patterson police issued an Amber Alert, notifying authorities throughout the state to be on the lookout of the suspect's vehicle, which is believed to be heading to San Jose.
Jose Esteban Rodriguez of Patterson is suspected of forcefully taking Juliani Cardenas from his grandmother's arms Tuesday afternoon, said Patterson Police Chief Tori Hughes.
Rodriguez and the boy's mother were once involved in a relationship, but he is not the boy's biological father, Hughes said.
It was unclear why the boy was snatched from his grandmother's grasp at her Patterson home. Hughes said it did not appear that Rodriguez brandished a weapon while taking the boy.
Hughes said the mother was at work when the boy was taken. She said the mother believes Rodriguez might be heading to his mother's home in San Jose.
The incident was reported at 4:12 p.m. Hughes said Rodriguez drove away with the boy in a beige or silver Toyota Corolla with the California license plate number 6HBW445.
Police described the boy as Latino standing about 3 feet 6 inches tall and weighing about 40 pounds.
The boy was wearing black Spiderman shoes that light-up, a light-blue fleece-type sweatshirt, a pajama shirt and black sweatpants.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2394.
Amber Alert System raises questions, receives praise
by Suzanne Phan
SACRAMENTO, CA - The latest Amber Alert catches the eye of many drivers thanks to highway signs and high tech digital billboards.
Exactly how helpful have amber alerts been though since 2002 when it was first activated?
"We've been tremendously successful. We've had 175 activations and recovered 213 children," Assistant Chief of the California Highway Patrol Ike Tani said.
Authorities also caught more than 100 suspects.
During the past three years, 24 Amber Alerts were sent out statewide each year, even more kids are found. In many cases, authorities catch the suspects.
The California Highway Patrol said it's been a great service, but not perfect. In fact, some people question why the CHP doesn't issue Amber Alerts sooner.
"Normally, that has to do with investigating agency, the investigating agency has to put the criteria together to make that determination," Tani said.
A closer look at the CHP web page about Amber Alerts shows a grim statistic. According to the Department of Justice, 74 percent of the children who were abducted and later found murdered were killed within three hours of being taken. It's a sign that every second counts.
"We are dealing with Amber Alert, our greatest hope is we are always going to recover the children alive," Tani said. "Speed is essential, the sooner we get reports, the sooner we get the info out there, the greater the chance of recovery."
Authorities looking for Riverside County girl, 15, who said she was being held against her will
January 18, 2011
Authorities in Riverside County were seeking information Tuesday regarding a 15-year-old girl who called her grandmother, saying she was being held against her will.
Mary Belinda Bartolo said she was being held at a hotel. The girl did not provide a location of the hotel and the phone number was blocked, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said.
Bartolo, a Rubidoux resident, is 5 feet 4 inches tall with black hair and brown eyes. She weighs 120 pounds.
Deputies said Bartolo may be with Danny Ramirez, 35. He is described as Latino, about 5 feet 5 tall and weighing 180 pounds. He has numerous tattoos, according to authorities.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Deputy Colon at (951) 955-2600 or the department dispatch center at (951) 776-1099.
O.C. district attorney seeks to commit convicted child rapist
January 18, 2011
Orange County prosecutors filed a petition Tuesday to have a convicted child rapist committed to a mental hospital to prevent further attacks.
Lawrence Brown, 52, is currently in custody in Chino State Prison for violating parole. He was arrested last year -- less than an hour after he was released from prison after serving 25 years for kidnapping and sexually assaulting two young girls, the Orange County district attorney's office said.
"Brown, a real life boogie man, [is] every parent's nightmare," Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said in a statement.
Brown is scheduled to appear Friday in Superior Court in Santa Ana for a hearing on the petition.
Under state law, inmates are subject to such reviews after they finish criminal sentences. They can be sent to a mental facility if they have been convicted of at least one violent sexual crime, are found to have a mental disorder and are likely to strike again unless they are committed, according to prosecutors.
The evidence is presented to a jury, which decides whether the offender should be committed.
Brown's two victims were attacked in 1983. On Tuesday, the district attorney released a statement from one of them.
"Lawrence Brown took away my innocence and left me badly bruised emotionally and physically," the woman said. "It is crucial that he remain incarcerated. There are too many innocent children out there who may not survive a man like him."
Md. offender monitoring lacking: Official
Maryland is not quite in full compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Act to better monitor sex offenders, a state official told a panel of lawmakers on Tuesday.
Maryland lawmakers approved a variety of legislation last year aimed at cracking down on repeat sex offenders after the December 2009 slaying of 11-year-old Sarah Foxwell on the Eastern Shore.
Authorities say she was killed by a registered sex offender who has been charged in her death.
Maryland public safety officials found out this month that the state was not considered to be in compliance in one area pertaining to the registration of juvenile offenders.
David Wolinski, assistant director of the state's Criminal Justice Information System, said Maryland was not in compliance with a stipulation requiring lifetime registration for juveniles 14 or older who have committed an aggravated sex offense.
"They didn't find us substantially in compliance on that one item and that single item only," Wolinski told the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee.
Wolinski said the federal government has backed away from requiring public notification for juveniles who fit into that category, and he said lifetime registration can be reduced to 25 years under certain circumstances.
Maryland could lose 10 percent of federal Byrne grant money in the next fiscal year, if the state isn't compliant by June 30. The money, which would add up to an estimated $2 million a year, is allocated for law enforcement initiatives.
Four states have been found to be in full compliance so far, including Delaware, Florida, Ohio and South Dakota.
Amber Alert Issued for Abducted 4-year-old Boy
Juliani Cardenas was allegedly taken by his mother's ex-boyfriend, Jose Esteban Rodriguez.
January 19, 2011
LOS ANGELES (KTLA) -- An Amber Alert has been issued for a 4-year-old boy abducted from a home in Patterson.
Juliani Cardenas was taken from his grandmother's arms around 4:12 p.m. Monday by 27-year-old Jose Esteban Rodriguez, according to CHP officials and witnesses.
Rodriguez is the ex-boyfriend of the boy's mother, who is also reportedly pregnant with his unborn child.
It's believed he could be headed to San Jose.
Cardenas is about 3 feet 6 inches tall, 40 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing dark pants and a light blue shirt.
Rodriguez is 5 feet 9 inches tall, 180 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a white and black shirt, checkered shorts and a beanie.
The suspect was driving a yellow or silver Toyota Corolla with a California license plate 6HBW445. The car is said to have oversize aluminum wheels and the left rear wheel is a smaller spare wheel.
Rodriguez has a criminal background, including a 1999 conviction for manslaughter, KTXL-TV is reporting.
Anyone who spots Rodriguez and Cardenas is asked to call Stanislaus County Sheriff's Sgt. Camarda at (209) 380-6015 .
Case of missing N.C. honor student still a mystery after 2 weeks
by the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) -- The mother of a missing 17-year-old honor student from North Carolina said she was stunned to learn that "20 different guys" passed through the home where the girl was staying and that the girl was allowed to drink alcohol while visiting family in Baltimore.
Phylicia Barnes of Charlotte, North Carolina, has been missing since December 28 after saying she was going out to get something to eat and maybe a haircut, according to Baltimore police. Maryland State Police and the FBI are also participating in the case.
Authorities have said they fear Barnes may have been harmed or abducted. Barnes left her debit card, and her mother said she has not answered her cell phone.
In an interview with HLN's "Nancy Grace" on Friday, Barnes' mother, Janice Sallis, said she spoke with Barnes' oldest half-sister multiple times before allowing Barnes to go to Baltimore.
"She knows how protective I was as her mother. She wasn't allowed to have a boyfriend," Sallis said.
"She didn't have men; we didn't have men coming in and out of our environment."
Sallis said she was "stunned" and "devastated" after learning from one of Barnes' siblings that "there was a listing of 20 different guys going in and out" of where Barnes was staying and that her daughter -- who recently turned 17 -- was allowed to drink alcohol.
A Baltimore police spokesman has said more than 100 Baltimore police, Maryland State Police troopers and FBI agents have been working on the case.
Sallis said she had encouraged Barnes to reach out to her siblings on her father's side of the family.
"I encouraged her to go on Facebook to look for them because she hadn't heard from that side of her family, from her father, in over eight years," Sallis said. "And I, as a mother, didn't want my daughter not knowing who her other side of her DNA is. I didn't want her going from man to man looking for her father in relationships, so I encouraged her to look for her half-sisters online and maybe she could find her father that way because she hadn't heard from him in over eight years." According to police, Barnes communicated through text messages with her half sister about 12:30 p.m. the day she disappeared. The ex-boyfriend of the half-sister was moving out of the apartment and said he saw Barnes on the couch at about 1:30 p.m., but when he came back to the apartment at about 5:10 p.m., Barnes was not there. The door was reportedly unlocked, and the music in the apartment was extremely loud.
Last week, Baltimore police spokesman Anthony J. Guglielmi said the FBI did a profile on the girl and found no reason she would run away. She is a good student with no emotional disturbances in her life, he said.
"The fact set of this case is different than anything else we've seen," he said.
Sallis made an emotional statement to CNN affiliate WBFF about her daughter.
"I want my daughter back," Sallis said. "She doesn't belong to whoever she's with. She doesn't belong with them. They are not her friends, they are not her family, they don't care anything about her. If they did, she wouldn't be where she's at."
Anyone with information on Barnes' disappearance can call 855-223-0033.