A man suspected of kidnapping a 5-year-old girl and killing a 21-month-old boy in Blaine was arrested Wednesday during a traffic stop hundreds of miles south of the Twin Cities after hiring someone to drive him, said authorities. The child was found with the suspect and is safe.
Nelson Geovanny Soto-Lopez, 24, was arrested in southwestern Missouri by state police, said Anoka County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Paul Sommer.
Before Soto-Lopez fled Arden Hills with the girl, who is not his child, about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, officers responded to an incident about 7 a.m. at the Blaine Medical Center, where the boy was found dead. Authorities have yet to reveal any details about the death of the boy, whose identity has yet to be released.
Soto-Lopez was apprehended “without incident” about 2:45 a.m. Wednesday roughly 600 miles from Blaine in Carthage, Mo., said Sgt. John Lueckenhoff, a spokesman for the Missouri State Highway Patrol. He remains in the Jasper County jail pending his return to Minnesota.
The 5-year-old, Cristal Mariel Olivia Aguilar, was with Soto-Lopez at the time of his arrest, along with another female, Lueckenhoff said. The sergeant did not disclose the female’s relationship to Soto-Lopez. The child is in the custody of Missouri’s Division of Youth Services, Lueckenhoff said.
Soto-Lopez hired “an unwitting individual” to drive him to Kansas City, Mo., Sommer said. The driver “was unaware of Soto-Lopez’s crimes or that he was wanted by police.”
Upon arrival in Kansas City, Soto-Lopez was met by his father and stepmother. “It was believed that Soto-Lopez intended to travel to Arkansas, where he has other family members,” Sommer said.
A Missouri State Police officer spotted the vehicle, made the stop and arrested Soto-Lopez roughly 60 miles from the Arkansas border, Sommer said.
Sommer said it appears the father and stepmother were unaware of Soto-Lopez’s fugitive status. The two have not been arrested and are cooperating with authorities, he added.
“The investigation is far from complete, and many legal aspects of extradition have to be worked out,” Sommer said.
Authorities said earlier that they arrested the girl’s mother and Soto-Lopez’s girlfriend, Heidi Jacqueline Aguilar-Bastillo, on suspicion of aiding an offender and child endangerment.
During the investigation, Aguilar-Bastillo’s accounts were “varied and inconsistent,” Sommer said.
Charges against Soto-Lopez and Aguilar-Bastillo are pending.