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Kidnapped girl back in Fayetteville; father still on the run

Posted December 28, 2011
Updated December 29, 2011

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— A 22-month-old Fayetteville girl was safe with her grandparents Wednesday, while the manhunt for her father, who's accused of killing her mother, continued.

Jose Alexander Zelaya, 23, is on the run after authorities say he shot and killed his girlfriend, 22-year-old Miriam Latisha Reyes, at her 2227 Waco Drive home early Tuesday, kidnapped Juliana Reyes and stole a neighbor's truck.

A delivery driver found Juliana abandoned in front a closed business at a Newport News, Va., shopping center, authorities said. She was wearing only a purple T-shirt and dirty diaper but was unharmed.

The toddler has been returned to Fayetteville and placed in the care of Reyes' parents, said Debbie Tanna, spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.

Those who knew Reyes, who is from Honduras, say she would want to be remembered as a mom. She worked part-time at Mi Casita Mexican restaurant in Hope Mills, but made sure her daughter came first, according to her boss, Stefania Jimenez.

"(She was an) awesome mom," Jimenez said. "I'm telling you, if she didn't have a daycare or someone to care for her daughter, she would call up here and say, 'I can't make it. Can you work it out with me?' And we did."

Jimenez said she heard that Reyes' boyfriend, Zelaya, "wasn't nice to her."

"I tried to give her my support. I said, 'If you ever need anything, you know I'm here, I'm here. Just let me know," Jimenez said. "We were all here. We were helping her out."

Juliana Reyes Woman killed in Fayetteville remembered as great mom

Zelaya faces first-degree murder and kidnapping charges. A Salvadoran national, he was last seen in Newport News, and authorities believe he might still be in Virginia, where he has family.

He is driving a 1994 four-door, burgundy Subaru Legacy sedan, with North Carolina license plate ZYT-3784, authorities said.

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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  • itsmyownopinion Dec 29, 2011

    Just heard that he has turned himself in in Conn.

  • mfarmer1 Dec 28, 2011

    Granted he don't seem to be a nice guy, but who said he was illegal?

    I read every article, I found no place that said he was an illegal alien.

  • joannespann Dec 28, 2011

    Please, please if you are in a relationship where you are getting hurt. GET OUT!! Run don't walk. There is so much help out there for you. Love is not supposed to hurt. This poor little girl is without a momma to love her and take care of her.
    Her great-grandparents will do a great job, but so much sorrow this family is going thru. Please, if you are in a situation like this, please go. Please, pray for this family and do not make political remarks about illegals, or democrats and republicans. These people are hurting.

  • LovemyPirates Dec 28, 2011

    How did a story about a mother being murdered and then he murder kidnapping their child morph into a story about illegals? So many will do anything to to move a "conversation" to a topic that fits their political & social agenda. Sad, sad, sad....

  • awood2 Dec 28, 2011

    Hope they find him! Poor child will be left with no mother and no father then. But sounds like no father is better than the one she has right now. Allegedly killed her mother..what kind of father does that?

  • cantstandya Dec 28, 2011

    ElvisPresleyJr,"Let them crash and burn at the polls" I hope one or more of these candidates gets the chance to read that statement,enough talk about what to do,they just need to do it.

  • hunter38 Dec 28, 2011

    Well with open borders this is what we get

  • ElvisPresleyJr Dec 28, 2011

    When it comes to illegals invading our country, it has to be a 1,2,3 type of operation. 1. We stop the bleeding by cutting off/securing the borders by rotating National Guardsmen from each state during their required calls of duty. 2. Both local,state,and federal law enforcement agencies (through grant monies)create small units of task forces within the departments to handle nothing but tracking illegals. 3. Enforce existing laws concerning deportation and use drug money seized from border operations to cover the cost of literally shipping the illegal aliens back across the border to Hulio Chavez. AND, if you wanna add a fourth step, force Democrats and Republicans to make immigration a part of their election campaign or else let them watch their campaigns crash and burn at the polls.

  • cantstandya Dec 28, 2011

    Those that are so strongly advocating for the immigration laws to be opened up to allow those that are already here to remain must realize that we have attracted more of this type than the hardworking law abiding people they seem to think are in this country illegally wanting a better life,most of the countries these people come from are glad they are here instead of in their own country.

  • ElvisPresleyJr Dec 28, 2011

    cantstandya is right. The illegals, who are quietly invading our country, are all part of networks/cells that make a living on trafficking these kinds of people in and out of the country on an HOURLY basis. It's what they do and it's part of their very culture. Like other groups of people/populations of our society who grow up in the welfare system and know how to use it to live off of, they are able to avoid any detection of those who might be able to expose them. To even think that he is out there on his own hiding in the woods is ridiculous. He's got mucho familia out there with him who are supplying cash, legal documents, and transportation.

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