Saturday, March 28, 2009

2 Kidnappings, 2 States, 2 Very Different Outcomes Part 2

Meanwhile that same Tuesday, March 24, that Emma Leigh Barker was being laid to rest a much different story was being played out in Plant City, Florida.

An Amber alert was issued Tuesday morning for a two-month-old Florida girl. Authorities say Sandra Cruz-Francisco, a Hispanic girl with black hair and brown eyes, was last seen in Plant City on Monday around 3 p.m..

Plant City Police Department Captain Darrell Wilson said that Sandra's mother contacted authorities after a woman at the Plant City Health Department falsely identified herself as Janet, an agent working for a federal immigration agency. The woman allegedly told family members to give her the baby. If they did not cooperate, the woman threatened deportation, Sandra was never returned to the family and police were contacted at about 9 p.m. Monday, Wilson said.

At 1:48 p.m. Tuesday, an anonymous call was placed to 911 stating someone was standing at the corner of 60th Avenue West and 34th Street West in Bradenton who had information on the missing baby, according to the sheriff's office. When deputies arrived, Amalia Pereira Tabata, 43, was holding Sandra in her arms and told them the baby was the missing girl. Witnesses at the strip mall said Tabata was immediately placed in the back of a patrol car and paramedics were paged to check out the baby.

Tabata was led out a back door of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office Crimes Against Children division in handcuffs Tuesday evening. Tabata, who is married to Pittsburgh Pirates' farm system outfielder Jose Tabata, said she was innocent when asked by a reporter in Spanish.

Pittsburgh Pirates' president Frank Coonelly issued a statement stating an "immediate family member" of 20-year-old Jose Tabata was questioned in connection to Sandra's abduction.
"This is an extremely serious matter and we have given the matter our full attention," he said. "While we have received very little information at this point in the investigation, we have received no indication that Jose is believed to have had any involvement in the matter."

Tabata, who has several listed aliases, has a previous arson conviction in Hillsborough County for which she was incarcerated for almost three years, according to the Department of Corrections Web site. She also has been previously arrested for fraud and theft, Wilson said.

Tabata faces charges of false imprisonment and interfering with child custody. She remains in the Manatee County jail and will be transported to the Hillsborough County jail in the next couple days.

There appears to have been no prior relationship between Tabata and the Cruz-Francisco family, Wilson said. It's unclear why the baby was taken.
"We don't know. Investigators have yet to learn why she took the child," said Wilson as Tabata was being interviewed.

"What we want is to let everybody know how well the Amber Alert works. Putting that information out got the public calling in with some good information, which led to the recovery of Sandra," said Captain Darrell Wilson of the Plant City Police Department. The child was taken away from her mother around 3:00pm Monday and in less than 24 hours police were announcing the child was found safe.

katfish here again. It was nice to report a happy ending for a change. Nothing has been reported as to the immigration status of Sandra's family after this event. No doubt Tabata didn't count on the family reporting Sandra's abduction (for fear of deportation). Good to see they love their baby more than their own welfare.

As for the comparison of Emma and Sandra's cases other than the fact they began with reports of an abducted child and were resolved quickly, they had nothing in common. LE really has their hands full when it comes to solving these cases, there are so many variables, think Caylee Anthony, Haleigh Cummings and Jessica Lunsford just to name a few. Kudos to LE for the job they do for us.
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