Two people accused in a brazen, broad-daylight kidnapping last month in San Jose, California, had tried to take the 3-month-old boy several times previously.
Brandon Cuellar was taken out of his grandmother’s home while the grandmother was unloading groceries on April 25, as CrimeOnline previously reported. Investigators found him unharmed the next day and arrested three suspects.
Baldomeo Sandoval, 37, was later released without charges, but Yesenia Ramirez, 43, and Jose Portillo, 28, were charged with kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, child abduction, and home invasion.
The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office said on Thursday that Ramirez had befriended the grandmother at church and become obsessed with the baby, according to KTVU.
On the day of the kidnapping, Ramirez had taken the grandmother and the baby shopping. When they returned home, the grandmother took Brandon inside and returned for her groceries. While she was outside, Portillo slipped in and took the boy. He was recorded in surveillance video walking down the street the the baby in a car seat.
Prosecutors said there were at least three prior attempts to abduct the boy, including one several weeks before the abduction in which Portillo posed as an employee of Child Protective Services and said he was supposed to take the boy into custody. The family was suspicious, however, and refused. They called CPS to ask about the incident and were told the agency hadn’t sent anyone.
“Ramirez was present at the victim’s home when this happened. Evidence showed that the two suspects plotted this attempt on March 14,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement.
On March 28, the duo tried to kidnap the boy from a Walmart but weren’t able to execute the plan to swap shopping carts with the grandmother and for Portillo to walk out of the store with the baby.
The next attempt was again at the Walmart — on the morning of the actual kidnapping.
“On the second occasion, they were unable to distract Brandon’s grandmother,”the district attorney’s office said.
Prosecutors announced charges related to the attempted kidnappings in court on Thursday.
Ramirez and Portillo are being held without bond.
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[Featured image: Jose Portillo and Yesenia Ramirez/San Jose Police Department]