SAN JOSE (CBS 5 / AP / BCN) — Divers are set to return to a canal Thursday morning after the search for a car believed to be used in the abduction of a 4-year-old turned toward the Delta-Mendota canal near Patterson, authorities said.
Divers searching the canal Wednesday found a 1996 Infiniti stolen in Modesto in 2007, not a Toyota Corolla, like the one believed to be used after the boy was snatched from his grandmother’s arms by his mother’s ex-boyfriend, authorities said.
The search of the canal began after a witness told authorities that he saw a car fitting the description of the Toyota, with the same “color, four doors and wheels,” go into the canal Tuesday evening, said Stanislaus County sheriff’s spokesman Royjindar Singh.
Investigators also found “fresh tire tracks” leading into the canal, said Singh, but could not determine what type of vehicle the tracks came from.
Diving conditions in the canal have been described as dangerous by authorities, which is about 16 feet deep at the location.
Nick Janes Reports for KCBS:
The suspect, Jose Esteban Rodriguez, 27, allegedly pulled into the driveway of a Patterson home around 4:12 p.m. Tuesday and abducted Juliani Cardenas while he was with his grandmother in the garage.
The boy’s mother and Rodriguez had been together for two years, but she had not seen Rodriguez for six months, according to Singh.
Authorities do not have a possible motive for the abduction.
Singh said Rodriguez is not the boy’s father.
“The suspect has an extensive criminal history,” Singh said. “The boy could be in danger.”
Rodriguez was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 1999, according to Singh. He also has been arrested on suspicion of assault and battery and unlawful sexual intercourse.
He was last seen driving a silver Toyota Corolla with license plate number 6HBW445. The vehicle had a “donut” spare tire on the front passenger side, Singh said.
Rodriguez is described as a Hispanic man, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 180 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a white and black shirt, checkered shorts, and a beanie.
Singh said Cardenas was in dark sweat pants, a light blue fleece sweater and black Spider Man shoes with lights on them. He is described as a Hispanic boy, 3 feet 6 inches tall and 40 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.
Authorities initially believed Rodriguez could be heading to San Jose, where he has family. But they now say he has family throughout California, including in the Central Valley, and could be anywhere in the state.
“We’re on the lookout,” San Jose police officer Jose Garcia said. “Our department is primarily utilizing officers on the street and even some that are undercover.”
Anyone with information about the pair is asked to call the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department at (209) 380-6015.
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