Georgia couple abducted 1-year-old boy from mother at gunpoint to raise child as their own, police say
CHAMBLEE, GEORGIA: A couple who had hit national headlines after they abducted an infant from his mother at gunpoint did so because they had intended to raise the child as their own, police have revealed.
MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) previously reported how Maynor Dario Valera Zuniga and Kristin Nicole Valera Zuniga were arrested on Saturday, August 29, after they kidnapped one-year-old Mateo Alejandro Montufar-Barrera in Chamblee as his mother, Leslie Bamaca, pushed him around a stroller in Clairview Drive. An AMBER Alert had been subsequently issued by the authorities, and Mateo was found safe around five hours later after state troopers intercepted the vehicle which Maynor and Kristin had been using to transport him.
At the time, Bamaca's sister Jessica told a local news station that they had no idea who the kidnappers were or why they had targeted Mateo. "We have no idea who they are," she said. "It's the first time we've seen them. We don't know where they came from. We don't know what their intentions were."
But the authorities have now revealed that the couple's crime was random and one committed one of opportunity. At a press conference on Monday, August 31, assistant Chamblee police chief Mike Beller said neither Maynor nor Kristin knew the infant or his mother and that their intention was to raise him as their own son. "They intended to raise this baby," he shared, adding that the couple had been married for around a year but did not have any children.
Following conducting interviews with the pair, police said the Zunigas revealed they had been patrolling the area looking for a child to abduct when they spotted Bamaca pushing Mateo in his stroller on a sidewalk. Just moments earlier, they reportedly had attempted to kidnap a different child but were thwarted by the mother, who managed to escape.
After that unsuccessful try, they zeroed in on Bamaca and pulled up to her in their maroon 2003 Acura MDX. Maynor got out of the vehicle and pointed a gun at her hip before peeking into her stroller and taking her son. However, he was met with resistance from the mother, who managed to wrestle his gun away from him but could not fire the weapon. She then grabbed one of his shoes and ripped a piece of fabric from his shorts, pictures of which were later uploaded on social media by the FBI in an attempt to identify the suspects.
At this point, Kristin got out of the vehicle and intervened, managing to take Mateo away before she and Maynor both sped away towards the I-85. The pair were eventually tracked down to Carroll County around 5 pm after the Georgia State Patrol spotted the vehicle and pulled them over. When they looked inside the car, they found that Mateo had been dressed up as a girl in a bid to conceal his identity.
Jessica praised her sister for fighting back and thanked God for returning the young boy to them safely. "What I took away personally from this was that God has total, complete control of our lives," she said. "This is something that was out of our control so we gave it 100% to him, and we give him honor and glory for letting us have him back in our arms."
Maynor and Kristin are now facing charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault, and battery in connection to the incident, according to DeKalb County jail records.