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Kidnapped girl

Update: Father lied about daughter’s abduction from driveway, triggering a frantic AMBER Alert search

Police say a Florida man lied about the details of his 3-year-old daughter’s abduction when he claimed someone snatched her from his driveway Monday morning after he briefly walked inside his home.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Lester Mejia told authorities that his daughter, Madeline Mejia, was taken from his car, parked in the driveway of his Orlando home, at around 6 a.m. The man claimed the child was already seated in the vehicle when he noticed he didn’t have his keys.

He reportedly said that as he walked inside his home to retrieve the keys, strangers driving a black Honda sedan with a Texas license plate snatched the little girl and drove away. Mejia said he got in his car and followed the Honda, but turned around when he realized he didn’t have his cellphone with him.

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Mejia reportedly told police that he didn’t recognize the driver of the car and that the child’s mother lived out of state. Police said the story was fabricated.

Mejia was apparently at work when the child’s biological mother, Tania Fortin-Duarte, 19, and her boyfriend, Kevin Olmeda-Velis, 19, picked the little girl up, according to the Apopka Police Department.

A relative was reportedly taking care of the girl while Mejia was at work. The relative called the father and told him that Fortin-Duarte picked the child up.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Apopka police said Mejia fabricated the story to get more attention on his daughter.

“Mr. Mejia was scared he would not see his daughter again so he provided the abduction story in hopes it would assist in recovering his daughter.”

Authorities found the suspects driving a black Honda sedan near Tallahassee on Monday afternoon. Four people were taken into custody without incident, according to the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP).

Two of the people detained, who have not been named, were taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Fortin-Duarte and Olmeda-Velis were arrested and charged with interference with custody.

Mejia explained that when he initially called 911 while driving back from work, he was told that if the child was with his mother, no crime was committed. Police have not confirmed whether Mejia’s statements are true or not.

Authorities said that although “Mejia was not forth coming with the information he provided to the Apopka Police,” he did have full custody of his daughter and Fortin-Duarte did not have the legal right to take the child.

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[Feature Photo: FDLE]