A mother’s year-long nightmare has ended with the recovery of her two children. The children were kidnapped from Ellerbe in February of 2010.
On March 9, Police Officer Eric Katzin in Riverside, Illinois observed a vehicle pass him that did not have a registration sticker. Katzin followed the car which made several turns to elude the officer and pulled into an alley off the main streets. The Illinois Secretary of State’s computer indicated that the tags on the car were expired.
Katzin approached the driver, who stated that he did not have a valid driver’s license. Upon checking his Mexican driver’s license and name by using several possible name combinations, Katzin found an arrest warrant for kidnapping from North Carolina.
The offender denied he was the wanted suspect but his car contained a 3-year-old child not secured in a safety seat who was one of the children that is the subject of the kidnapping warrant.
Photographs as well as scars and other identifying marks provided from N.C. confirmed the suspect was the person wanted in the warrant. Fingerprint checks made in U.S. databases did not contain copies of the offender’s fingerprints to check against. One other child was located at school and both children were turned over to DCFS until their mother is able to arrive to take them home. The children confirmed that they are the ones in the warrant by stating their true names and not those provided by the offender.
Katzin contacted the mother and through a series of law enforcement agencies and an interpreter, she choked back tears and told him that after an argument with the suspect, he took the kids from her and fled the state over a year ago. The mother thought she might never see her children again. She is en route to Illinois at this time to reunite with them.
The suspect, 42-year-old Genaro Pineda-Munoz, was charged with various traffic violations. He will appear before a judge in Maybrook before being turned over to Fugitive Warrants and then extradited to North Carolina on kidnapping charges.
Chief Tom Weitzel said, “This is a prime example of dedication to duty and looking beyond the stop.” Weitzel added, “I can’t believe Munoz had made it over a year without being stopped or questioned by police if he had no license or proper plates.”
The chief went on to say, “The second part of this investigation has just started. I have instructed my detective to follow up on how one of the kidnapped children was able to be enrolled in a Stickney school without some type of red flag going off.”