San Jose, CA

California kidnapping suspects stocked up on diapers, the formula in a plot to take a 3-month-old, officials say

Bhavya Soni

Court documents outline a number of the steps a person and woman allegedly took before prosecutors say they kidnapped a 3-month-old boy from his family’s Northern California apartment. The baby, Brandon Cuellar, had reportedly been snatched from an apartment on Elm Street just north of San Jose on Monday afternoon as his grandmother was unloading groceries from a car. He was found alive every day later and has since been reunited with his mother.

Police initially arrested three people in connection to the kidnapping, but one was released and isn't being charged. Yesenia Guadalupe Ramirez and Jose Roman Portillo remained jailed without bail. They were arraigned Thursday on charges of kidnapping and other related felonies, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said in a very news release.

A statement of facts alleges that police searched Ramirez’s home and Portillo’s home and located “numerous items associated with infant care”, including baby clothing, formula, diapers, and a seat. A baby rocker was also found at Ramirez’s home in keeping with the document. Prosecutors said neither Ramirez nor Portillo have any infant children of their own or infant family members living in their homes. A complaint states that the suspects purchased the things to worry for the victim.”

Prosecutors said that Ramirez, 43, an acquaintance of the family, and Portillo, 28, “plotted to grab Brandon” and took him while he was being cared for by his grandmother. On the day of the kidnapping, Ramirez had driven the grandmother and baby to an area Walmart where the grandmother could go shopping, prosecutors said.

According to the district attorney's office, the grandmother took Brandon inside the apartment, placed him on a bed, and grabbed the luggage. About two minutes later, Portillo is seen on security video walking toward the apartment with what appears to be an empty seat with a white blanket over it. He reappears within the video a couple of minutes later, holding a " physically heavier seat,” the court documents state.

The grandmother discovered that Brandon was missing some minutes later and called the police.

Officers saw on video that a white Nissan Quest was seen leaving the realm around the same time Brandon went missing. Authorities learned that the vehicle belonged to Ramirez. She provided the car to Portillo days before the kidnapping, as alleged by the prosecutors. They also said that phone location data shows Ramirez and Portillo were both within the area of the Walmart around the time the grandmother was shopping which Ramirez called Portillo after arriving at the apartment.

Prosecuting attorney Jeff Rosen informed that “The kidnapping of Baby Brandon sent a shudder through our whole community, not just us parents.”

Online court records show that the suspects are scheduled to seem in court on Friday. Cody Salfen, an attorney for Ramirez, said she's going to possibly not enter a plea because they're still waiting to receive information from the district attorney’s office. Attorney information wasn't available for Portillo.

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