An El Paso woman is accused of kidnapping the child of a migrant woman who recently crossed the border and holding her for ransom for several months.
According to a federal criminal complaint, 45-year-old Jenna Leigh Roark was arrested in September on charges of hostage-taking and aiding and abetting.
According to prosecutors, the FBI was contacted by the St. Petersburg Police Department in Florida on September 26 after a Honduran citizen told police she had been separated from her newborn son since May and was forcibly removed from him in exchange for the child’s safe return. recovery was being made. Prosecutors said the woman, referred to in the complaint as the “victim,” was living in Florida at the time.
According to the complaint, the unidentified mother said she had crossed the US-Mexico border in May and contacted a man and a woman at the El Paso apartment complex asking them for directions to the nearest Gray Hound bus station. The complaint states that both of them then offered the mother a ride.
The migrant woman said that during the ride, Roark, who identified himself as “Jane” to the mother, told the woman that she would keep her son. According to the complaint, Roark exchanged numbers with the mother and said they would keep in touch.
“Jane used to send photos and videos of the victim from time to time, and the victim and (her) son used to talk on the phone two to three times a week,” the complaint said.
The complaint did not specify why the mother agreed to leave her child with Roark or give any other details about the alleged abduction.
Prosecutors said Roark would initially demand $8,000 from the mother, but that figure was later reduced to $5,800.
Roark was arrested on September 16 by the Texas Department of Public Security on a separate human trafficking charge. The complaint said Roark had stayed at a motel and picked up three undocumented people.
When Roark was arrested, one of his daughters was in the front seat of his car, with a newborn boy, whom Roark claimed was the son of his other daughter. But when Roark claimed that the daughter had given authorities conflicting information about the child’s identity, the infant was placed in the care of Child Protective Services and an investigation was launched, the complaint said.
The child was later recognized by the Honduran woman as her son.
The complaint alleges that during an interview with Texas DPS, Roark claimed that her husband was in trouble with the Mexican Mafia and that there was a group of 29 immigrants she was supposed to take, from whom she Only picked up four. The complaint said he claimed that a man in Mexico had sent the child to him, whom he called Richard.
According to the complaint, Roark told Texas DPS that Richard had raised the child and sent the mother and her other two children to the US.
“(d) the son was eventually brought to the United States by an unidentified woman and Roark was to care for the child until payment was made by the victim,” the complaint read.