Local News

Fayetteville girl found safe; father sought in girlfriend's death

Posted December 27, 2011
Updated December 29, 2011

— Cumberland County authorities were searching Tuesday for a man accused of killing his girlfriend, kidnapping their 22-month-old daughter and then leaving the little girl in Virginia. 

An Amber Alert was canceled Tuesday morning after Jose Alexander Zelaya, 23, left his daughter, Juliana Reyes, at shopping center in Newport News, Va., according to police.

A food delivery driver found the girl in front of a closed business, wearing only a purple T-shirt and dirty diaper. The driver took the child to a nearby Food Lion, which was open at the time.

Jose Alexander Zelaya Fayetteville man sought in girlfriend's death

Zelaya is believed to be in the Newport News area, according to police. He faces a first-degree murder charge in the death of his girlfriend, 22-year-old Miriam Latisha Reyes, of 2227 Waco Drive in Fayetteville.

Police say he shot her several times just after midnight, took Juliana and stole a neighbor's truck. Authorities say Zelaya, a Salvadoran national, could be in a burgundy Toyota.

"There was a gunshot, you know. Somebody opened fire. Pop! Pop! Pop!" said neighbor Jesus Moreno, whose truck was stolen. "I opened the door. He pushed me."

Anyone with information on Zelaya's whereabouts is asked to call the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office at 910-323-1500 or Newport News police at 757-247-2500.


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  • saywhaaaaat Dec 27, 2011

    Sadly there is a chance he will never be found....He is probably half way through Mexico going toward El Savador right now...What a coward..

  • nanasix Dec 27, 2011

    Yes Mike, I see a problem here. He killed a human being, took the child and left her out in the cold in a tee shirt and dirty diaper. I see multiple problems, and wish it were left in my hands to handle/punish him when he's found, and I hope it's soon before he hurts or kills someone else. He needs to be punished in more ways than the law allows...I'm curious if he's in the U.S. illegally, and hope it will be checked and let us know. These probably aren't the only crimes he's committed.

  • claygriffith01 Dec 27, 2011

    are you suggesting he be let free so that she has a "parent"? The same so called father that left her with a t-shirt and dirty diaper alone in front of an abandoned building? She is better off in the system IMO.

  • mike275132 Dec 27, 2011

    The WRAL Censors are sensitive today-

    The Facts-
    Zelaya, a Salvadoran national, killed his girlfriend 22-year-old Marianna Latisha Reyes.
    Out of Wedlock child Juliana Reyes found.
    Zelaya if caught will get Death penalty or life in prison,
    Child left without parents to raise her.

    Anyone see a problem here?

  • 2gurlz2boyzMom Dec 27, 2011

    ok, so where is the little girl now? is she in safe hands? why did the dad leave her in VA? there are so many questions with no answers...

  • westernwake1 Dec 27, 2011

    Fortunately the young lady was found safe in this tragic situation.

  • twc Dec 27, 2011

    Many people are quick to have pity on children and families AFTER the fact. If you want to help America help someone BEFORE they hurt your sensitivities.

    Or sit back and spew comments about how they have to live!

  • bombayrunner Dec 27, 2011

    wasnt long ago people right here in this state were hanging folks just for being black.

  • seankelly15 Dec 27, 2011

    storchheim - "First, "racist" isn't a verb. Your tiresome, unoriginal comment makes no sense."

    The person didn't use it as a verb.

    "The comment about not being allowed to stop him because of profiling was spot-on. We allow TSA to grope wheelchair-bound grandmothers and let people who fit profiles of low-life cultures have a pass?"

    The TSA protects airports. If the fugitive goes to an airport he will be stopped.

    "Second, it is not "racist" to acknowledge openly that some cultures are despicable."

    Which "cultures" are despicable? PEOPLE can be despicable, cultures cannot take on personality characteristics.

  • shannonatlanticvend Dec 27, 2011

    I was just in El Salvador a few weeks ago. Some of the nicest people I have ever met. Bad people are everywhere...including natives to NC. Doesn't matter race or color. This is a terrible crime and I hope he is caught and punished as he should be in any country.