Isabel Diaz Castillo had doted on baby Carlos Orozco for several months after meeting him and his mother in a Minneapolis laundromat.
But Wednesday, police said, Castillo went from friend to abductor, taking the 8-month-old from his south Minneapolis home as his mother, Vicky Orozco, took a shower. The baby’s disappearance triggered a frantic search that ended four hours later when officers found Carlos in a basement, arrested Castillo and reunited the boy with his joyful mother.
Investigators said Castillo had been “paying an inordinate amount of attention to the child” recently. Patricia Orozco, Vicky Orozco’s sister-in-law, said Castillo often talked about how much Carlos reminded her of the baby she lost in a miscarriage. Family friend Alvaro Puente said Castillo had often bought clothes for little Carlos.
Wednesday’s drama began just before noon, when a panicked Vicky Orozco called her friend Puente, who had been checking on her while her husband was in Mexico over the past month.
“Somebody came in and took my baby!” she exclaimed, according to Puente.
“She [was] very desperate,” he recalled.
Authorities received a 911 call just before noon Wednesday and initially thought that a stranger had abducted the child from three-story converted house in the 2100 block of Portland Avenue S., where Carlos lived with his parents and four siblings.
They soon came up with a suspect: Castillo, 30, last seen with her 12-year-old son at 10 a.m. and thought to be driving a red car.
Authorities issued an Amber Alert seeking the public’s help in locating Castillo and the child. Hours later, they received an anonymous tip directing officers to a home belonging to a relative of Castillo in the 3700 block of 3rd Avenue S. Police Chief Janeé Harteau said officers found the baby in the basement, apparently unharmed. When officers spotted Castillo’s vehicle, she tried to run away, according to Harteau.
Castillo was taken to the Hennepin County jail. It was not clear Wednesday night what happened to her 12-year-old son, who was seen going into Orozco’s house just before the infant went missing.
“¡Ya lo encontraron!” Orozco joyfully called out to Puente in Spanish when she heard her baby was on his way home. They found him!
The boy’s return at 4:15 p.m. was a spectacle: Reporters and TV crews rushed forward as an ambulance backed onto 22nd Street, and Harteau walked out of the house with Orozco, who held a blue baby blanket printed with soccer and basketballs. Minutes after they stepped inside the ambulance, a police car pulled up and an officer brought the dark-haired baby to his mother, who hugged him close. Orozco, who did not speak with reporters, could be seen happily exclaiming as the doors to the ambulance shut. (Reached later in the evening, she declined to comment.)
Carlos was taken to the hospital for a quick checkup.
His older sister arrived home from school and broke into tears as she surveyed the ambulance and the crowds. Patricia Orozco, the sister-in-law, said in Spanish that the day had been difficult. Neighbors snapped pictures.
Such cases don’t always have happy endings, Harteau told reporters before rejoining Vicky Orozco at the reunion scene.
This one did.