FBI: Child safe after being abducted, held for ransom near Wapato
YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- A 14-year-old child is safe after authorities said the boy was kidnapped and held for ransom for more than nine hours.
The details read like a movie script but not one you'd expect to play out in our community. A teenager snatched from his home by strangers and held for a six-figure ransom.
The call came in Friday morning from the Brooks Road area near Wapato, according to the Yakima County Sheriff's Department website.
This quickly became a federal case.
Court documents indicate the teen's father went to get him ready for school but couldn't find his child.
The boy later told investigators two people had showed up at his home. He says he was told he'd be taken to a "safe" place.
According to the arrest affidavit, the victim's father got a ransom call two hours after his child went missing.
Investigators say the man on the other end of the line was Ernesto Martinez, who gave the dad 8 hours to come up with the cash.
Martinez appeared in federal court Monday on kidnapping charges. KIMA's camera was not allowed in.
Investigators also arrested Yaritza Contreras and Esmeralda Contreras. They believe Esmeralda and Martinez were the ones who actually took the teen from the home.
It's not clear how they picked this home or why they demanded $120,000.
When the boy's father couldn't come up with the money, the ransom demand was reduced to $80,000.
Court documents say Yaritza Contreras came into the picture when she met up with the other suspects to help with the money drop.
"Is this a unique case?" KIMA asked.
"Fortunately, for all of us, ransom kidnappings are rare events," said FBI spokesperson Frank Harrill.
KIMA asked why the public was kept in the dark.
It's startling for parents to think about this random kidnapping in our community. It happened Friday but wasn't made public until Monday.
The FBI declined to comment.
Local law enforcement officers told Action News ransom cases are generally kept quiet to protect the victim. In this case, the teen was safely rescued nine hours later.
But the shock of it all is still lingering.
KIMA also learned the child has special needs, but we don't know the details. The three kidnapping suspects could face a life sentence if convicted.
They will be in court again later this week.