Kidnapping Suspect Busted -- But Still No Trace of Four Family Members
Four family members kidnapped in Phoenix last week remain missing despite the arrest of a man who allegedly tried to pick up the ransom money.
Phoenix police believe that victim Roman Mendez drove to east Phoenix from California last Wednesday morning to pick up some of his family members. (A police narrative doesn't give the ages or precise relationship of the victims). On the way back to California, the group decided to pull off the freeway to visit a friend.
While going north on 35th Avenue, a black Jeep Cherokee suddenly cut off their car. Two dudes jumped out of the Jeep and rushed the vehicle with handguns.
One of the suspects asked his cohort whether they should kill the driver, who apparently wasn't one of the family members, or take him with, court records state.
The kidnappers decided to let the driver live, pushing him out and taking off in the family's car. The man contacted police and an investigation was begun.
Over the next few days, relatives of the family members in California and Mexico started getting ransom demands from the kidnappers, who wanted $2,000 for each victim. Police soon learned that the kidnappers wanted the money put into a Bank of America account belonging to a man named Cesar Angeles-Ballesteros, records show.
The bank called the cops on Saturday morning, saying that Angeles-Ballesteros had showed up and was trying to make a withdrawal from the account of $3,800.
The suspect (who also goes by Angeles-Ballester) was arrested, but he lawyered up after telling police he didn't know about the kidnapping. Cops are seeking charges of kidnapping and theft by extortion.
None of the victims have been located.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.