Four abducted children have been returned to their father after their mother, who does not have legal custody, took them as far as Barstow, CA before being apprehended.
On Saturday, June 28th at approximately 5:00 a.m., the four children were returned to the custodial parent by way of combined efforts of Parker Police Department, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and the La Paz County Attorney’s Office, after having been taken out state by non-custodial parent Rosa Ruiz-Ramirez.
The investigation was led by Officer Maria Torres, a two-year officer with Parker P.D. under the supervision of Sgt. Mike Thompson. Around 5:15 p.m. on Friday, June 27, 2014, Parker Police Department received a call from a custodial parent who reported that four children had been abducted by the non-custodial parent. Officer Maria Torres responded to the call. The father reported that he believed the mother would remove the children from the state of Arizona. Officer Torres reviewed court orders to confirm the father’s claim to custody of the children; satisfied that the children were wrongfully removed, Officer Torrez put out an ATL – Attempt To Locate – on the suspect, Rosa Ruiz-Gutierrez.
Officer Torres placed a time-critical call to Chief Deputy Karen Hobbs of the La Paz County Attorney’s Office from the scene. Chief Deputy Hobbs and Deputy County Attorney Dan Terrell initiated legal proceedings. Attorney Terrell returned to the office after hours to work on the complaint and contact the on-call judge, Parker Magistrate Court Justice of the Peace, Jim Putz-Artrup. Officer Torres maintained contact with Atty. Terrell by cell phone from the scene to provide information needed to draft the complaint, then returned to Parker P.D. to swear out the affidavit for an arrest warrant in front of Judge Putz-Artrup at 9:00 p.m.
Officer Torres said, “I was really impressed with dispatch.” She praised La Paz County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch Operators, Ralph and Jason. “They were on the ball,” she said. Torres said that dispatch sent out a second ATL to Arizona and California law enforcement agencies within seconds of receiving the arrest warrant.
Throughout the investigation, Officer Torres was in communication with San Bernardino Sheriff’s Officers lead by Sgt. Grissten. “He did a good job,” she said. “He gave me his cell number so we could keep in constant communication without going through California dispatch.”
At about 12:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, 2014, Rosa Ruiz-Gutierrez was apprehended and arrested at a motel in Barstow, California, over 200 miles from the children’s home in Parker, by San Bernardino Sheriff’s Officers.
“San Bernardino was wonderful,” said Torres. “They did their job beautifully and secured the kids.” All four children were located and taken into custody within 8 hours of the initial report. The children were placed in the care of California CPS workers until their father could arrive from Parker. The father was reunited with his children about 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning. Ms. Ruiz-Gutierrez is charged with four felony counts of custodial interference.
A press release from the La Paz County Attorney’s Office praised the teamwork that led to the return of the children, including Torres, Thompson, who remained at the office until midnight overseeing the operation, and Parker P.D. Officer Jose Martinez, who fielded incoming calls allowing Officer Torres and Sgt. Thompson to focus all of their efforts on the investigation.
Officer Torres attributes the safe return of the children to good communication between the agencies involved. “Communication is the key,” said Torres. “We all have each other’s cell phone numbers.”
Parker Police Chief Clay Romo commended Officer Torres’s work. Chief Romo was not surprised by Officer Torres’s swift resolution of the case. “She’s a real go-getter, learning all of the time,” said the chief. “Officer Torres does an outstanding job. She has all kinds of energy and does good follow up.” Regarding the interagency cooperative effort, Chief Romo said, “It’s about building relationships.”
La Paz County Attorney Tony Rogers agreed. “Teamwork between officers on the streets and prosecutors is key to community safety,” he said. Rogers had previously given every law enforcement agency department head his personal cell number and the cell numbers of each of his deputies. Rogers has invited the Sheriff and the Chiefs to distribute the numbers among their officers. “I want law enforcement officers to know they can reach us any time we are needed.”