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After she was discovered by a passing motorist who called 911, the girl led police to a mobile home where authorities discovered two decomposing bodies on the property.
On Thursday, the Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Office claimed the bodies — which had been brutally dismembered — belonged to the girl’s mother and brother. In court records for the case, officials wrote the brother was younger than 14.
José Paulino Pascual-Reyes, 37, was arrested at a construction site on Monday night, more than 30 kilometres from where the mobile home was parked in a rural area south of Dadeville, Ala.
Pascual-Reyes was originally charged with kidnapping, but police have now added multiple counts of capital murder. According to police, Pascual-Reyes was the mother’s live-in boyfriend.
(Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett clarified that the kidnapping charge against Pascual-Reyes is not because he physically abducted the girl, but because she was held hostage against her will.)
Police believe the unnamed girl’s captivity began on July 24. Court documents allege she had been tied to bed posts inside the residence for over a week and was plied with alcohol. Authorities claim Pascual-Reyes intended to cause physical or sexual harm.
According to police, the girl was able to free herself by chewing out of her restraints and exiting the mobile home. Court documents claim she damaged her braces in the process.
In a news conference Thursday, Abbett did not specify whether the girl knew the bodies in the mobile home were her mother and brother.
As of this writing, legal representatives for Pascual-Reyes have declined to comment publicly.
Police also claim Pascual-Reyes entered the U.S. illegally from Mexico. He was in the country after being deported, though Abbett said it is unclear when Pascual-Reyes reentered.
Pascual-Reyes, the 12-year-old girl, her mother and her brother had been living in the mobile home since February, officials allege. The girl’s mother, Sandra Vazquez Ceja, 29, came to the U.S. also from Mexico in 2017, seeking asylum. Their status claim had yet to be approved by government officials, Abbett said.
The sheriff also claimed that though there had been other residents living at the mobile home, there is no indication they were aware of the deceased persons or captive girl.
Abbett said the unnamed girl “is a hero for surviving the incident and coming forward with the information that she provided us in order to charge him.”
Police claim the 12-year-old girl is now safe and in the care of state child welfare officials.
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