Tallapoosa County, AL – Authorities said a 12-year-old kidnapped girl who managed to chew through her restraints and escape had been held captive with the dismembered bodies of her brother and mother for a week.
Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett said the heroic little girl provided investigators with information that helped them to find her family members’ bodies and arrest her mother’s boyfriend, 37-year-old Jose Paulino Pascual-Reyes, WTTG reported.
Pascual-Reyes is an illegal immigrant from Mexico who had previously been deported, Sheriff Abbett said.
It is unclear when he returned to the United States.
Sheriff Abbett said the girl “is a hero for surviving the incident and coming forward with the information that she provided us in order to charge him.”
Investigators said the little girl was held against her will inside the house beginning on or about July 24 and that the suspect intended to sexually abuse her or inflict physical injury upon her, WRBL reported.
They said she was tied to bed posts inside a mobile home just south of Dadeville, in a rural area of County Road 34, for more than a week.
Pascual-Reyes gave her alcohol to keep the child in a drugged state, according to police.
Investigators said she managed to escape by chewing through her restraints, causing damage to the braces on her teeth, CBS News reported.
Police said the girl had not been reported as missing, according to WRBL.
The investigation into the kidnapping began on Aug. 1, when a motorist spotted the girl walking down CR 34 at approximately 8:30 a.m., Sheriff Abbett said last week.
The motorist stopped to check on her and then called 911.
According to court documents, Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Office (TCSO) deputies saw injuries to her wrists when they arrived at the scene and believed they indicated she had been tied up, WRBL reported.
She was immediately transported to an area hospital for medical attention.
“She is safe now, and so we want to keep her that way,” Sheriff Abbett said.
The investigation led police to Pascual-Reyes’ mobile home, where police wound up finding two decomposing bodies inside, CBS News reported.
One of the bodies was later identified as 29-year-old Sandra Vazquez Ceja, the mother of the kidnapped little girl, according to WTTG.
The other murdered victim has been identified as Ceja’s son, who was younger than 14 years old, according to court documents.
Sheriff Abbett said Ceja and Pascual-Reyes were in a relationship and that she and her children were living with him in the home where the bodies were discovered, WTTG reported.
They had been living at the mobile home since February, he noted.
The sheriff said Ceja and her children had come to the U.S. from Mexico in 2017 and that their requests for asylum were still pending, WTTG reported.
According to court documents, investigators said Pascual-Reyes smothered Ceja to death with a pillow, WRBL reported.
They said he beat the young boy to death using his feet and hands.
Investigators said the victims were then “cut into small pieces at the joints in order to hide evidence,” The Birmingham News reported.
Pascual-Reyes was apprehended by the Auburn Police Department (APD) and the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) in Auburn, WSFA reported.
He has been charged with three counts of capital murder, two counts of abuse with a corpse, and one count of first-degree kidnapping.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lodged an immigration detainer on Pascual-Reyes after his arrest, The Birmingham News reported.