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Brandon Cuellar, aged three months, is pictured with his mother Carolina Ayala on Wednesday – the day after he was recovered from a 20-hour kidnapping
A woman accused of kidnapping a three month-old baby befriended the infant’s mom at church after noticing she was heavily pregnant, it was claimed.
Carolina Ayala said that Yesenia Ramirez, 43, inveigled her way into her family’s life after spotting her with the huge baby bump, and became a regular called to the family’s San Diego home after Ayala’s son Brandon was born.
Ayala said: ‘She would go to my house a lot, she always wanted to be there,’ Ayala told KTST-TV, a Telemundo affiliate.
Brandon was snatched from his grandmother’s home Monday by a man cops say is Jose Roman Portillo, 28.
They allege Portillo was encouraged to carry out the abduction on Ramirez’s orders. Brandon was discovered safe in a San Diego home on Tuesday, with Ramirez and Portillo both appearing in court Thursday charged with his abduction.
Ayala is pictured speaking on Wednesday about the ordeal. The baby’s father is in prison, on undisclosed charges
Ayala said that the alleged kidnapper befriended her at church, when she was nine months pregnant, and became a constant presence in her life
Yesenia Guadalupe Ramirez is pictured in court on Thursday. She is being held without bail in connection to the kidnapping of the baby
Jose Roman Portillo (right) is seen in court with Ramirez (left) on Thursday. Portillo is believed to be the person who carried baby Brandon from the house
Jose Roman Portillo, 28 (left), Yesenia Guadalupe Ramirez, 43 (center) and her husband Baldomeo Sandoval, 37 (right), were arrested in connection to the kidnapping of 3-month-old Brandon Cuellar. Sandoval has since been released without charge
Brandon Cuellar (pictured) was snatched around 1 pm on Monday from an apartment in San Jose – he was recovered about 20 hours later
Ayala said she was at work cleaning a home when her sister-in-law called her on Monday, to let her know her child was missing.
‘I felt like half of my heart had left with him. I felt like I died,’ Ayala told KDTV-TV, a Univision affiliate.
Authorities did not issue an Amber Alert because investigators did not have a vehicle description.
In the early hours of the investigation, officers and FBI agents went door-to-door in the neighborhood to appeal for witnesses or information.
Ayala was reunited with her son on Tuesday, after police found him in Portillo’s home, and said it was like ‘having my soul return to my body.’
‘I cried out of joy, I cried until I got tired of crying,’ she told Telemundo 48.
Ayala said that Ramirez offered to buy supplies for the baby and drove the baby and his grandmother, Victoria Mejia, to the store and back home on Monday.
Her associate, Portillo, was captured on surveillance video carrying a baby car seat and a small blanket and walking toward the apartment, police said.
Police said Ramirez had been communicating with Portillo moments before walked into the house while the grandmother was unloading the groceries, and took the baby and drove away.
The motive for the kidnapping is still under investigation.
Ramirez, Portillo and Ramirez’s husband Baldomeo Sandoval, 37, were arrested.
Sandoval has since been released without charge.
‘Baby Brandon has been located,’ the San Diego police department tweeted on Tuesday, adding that he would be ‘taken to a local hospital as a precaution but he has been located alive.
‘A million thank yous to all who assisted.’
One of the suspects, believed to be Portillo, walked into a home in the 1000 block of Elm Street at around 1pm on Monday and left with the baby boy
Police released a video clip that shows the man walking down the sidewalk holding a baby carrier covered by a white blanket
The three-month-old was found on Tuesday, police announced
He was taken to a local hospital out of precaution
Sgt. Christian Camarillo from the San Jose Police Department said that Ramirez was a family friend, and that the kidnappers’ motives are still under investigation.
‘There is a human component aspect to this incident,’ he said, according to ABC7.
‘Mom is very traumatized right now. She needs her space.’
Camarillo said on Monday that the baby’s mother was at work at the time and his father is in jail.
It’s unclear why the father is in jail.
‘Dad right now is out of the picture. He is incarcerated,’ Camarillo said.
‘I don’t know, you know, whether that is going to play into this, but obviously we are going to talk to him soon.’