Kidnapped girl back in Fayetteville; father still on the run
Posted December 28, 2011
Updated December 29, 2011
Fayetteville, N.C. — 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."
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.