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Elizabeth got in the car with Javier Hernandez. But they didn't go to Kuki's Store. They went to Mexico.

The girl recalls: ÔI said, `Where are we going?' and he said `Mexico,' and I said, `Please take me back,' and he said, `No,' and I fell asleep crying. We went to Agua Prieta and stayed in a hotel. At five or six in the morning, he went to the bus stop. I said, `Now where are we going?' and he said, `Mexico City.'"

In Mexico City, Elizabeth and Hernandez lived together in houses with other adults. Their relationship deteriorated. He didn't want me to drink pop," she says. Just Gatorade. He said I'd get fat. If I cleaned and missed a spot, he'd get mad. He didn't like me to cook soup, he said that gets you fat. He wouldn't let me eat chips. No taquitos. No candy. No popcorn. All I can say is he was a party-pooper."

Elizabeth says Hernandez scolded her for shaming" him in front of his friends because she was a lousy cook and housekeeper and she spent too much time hanging out with other kids. He hit me hard with his closed fist," she says. He slapped me."

The girl says she asked to telephone her grandmother, but Hernandez told her that Maria Robles no longer wanted to see her. Once, after Elizabeth pleaded, Hernandez allowed her to telephone her grandmother, but she was instructed not to let on where she was or that she was unhappy. If she disobeyed, she would never see her grandmother again, Elizabeth remembers Hernandez saying.

After five months in Mexico, Hernandez finally agreed to take her home. At the border, Elizabeth, an American citizen, was allowed to pass into Nogales, Arizona. Hernandez, who had no passport, was turned back.

Elizabeth called her grandmother, and Maria Robles rushed to Nogales to pick her up. Then Maria Robles called the police.

What happened during the investigation is under dispute. The police reports indicate that the girl told investigators that she did not want Hernandez prosecuted. The police concluded that the 13-year-old was not held in Mexico City against her will. They also concluded that Elizabeth did not want to cooperate with prosecutors. She says that is not true.

I'll testify against him," says Elizabeth. Any time."
When Javier Hernandez returned to Phoenix, he cooperated fully with police, according to records. He told detectives that Elizabeth pursued" him and planned the trip to Mexico. He also said Elizabeth did not want to be returned to her grandmother, but finally agreed after Hernandez and Maria Robles had several telephone conversations. (Maria Robles says Hernandez called a couple of times but wouldn't tell her where the girl was and never offered to return the girl.)

As to Elizabeth's accusation that Hernandez hit her, detectives who interviewed the dishwasher wrote: The suspect said he did not hit the victim but only played slapping around with the victim."

As to sex between the 13-year-old girl and the man, the police noted: The suspect did not want to comment on the sexual relations part of the relationship."

Police can send their reports to the County Attorney's Office for either prosecution or for a review that could lead to prosecution. In this case, police asked only for a review. According to police records, deputy county attorney Miles Nelson returned the case to investigators, saying that Hernandez could not be prosecuted on charges of custodial interference or sexual conduct with a minor. The case is muddied by the fact that Maria Robles does not have legal custody of her granddaughter. Elizabeth's natural mother, who had not seen Elizabeth since she was a baby, did not want to press custodial-interference charges, according to police.

FitzGerald, the spokesman for the County Attorney's Office, says there was not enough evidence in the report to prove kidnaping. And sexual abuse charges could not be filed based on events in Mexico, he says.

Deputy county attorney Nelson told police that the Phoenix prosecutor's office might consider filing unlawful imprisonment charges," according to police records. But Tyler Rich, the city prosecutor, refused prosecution because the victim went with the suspect willingly" and the victim was free to come and go [in Mexico City] as she pleased," according to the police report. (The city prosecutor did not return telephone calls seeking comment.)

We never officially turned the case down," says FitzGerald. We turned the case back to the Phoenix police for possible further investigation. We said the case was not there, based on the information they gave us."

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Terry Greene