Aired November 6, 2006 - 20:00:00 ET
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Still moaning in pain, Eduardo Vargas pleads for his daughter`s safe return. He shows us where he was repeatedly stabbed in the chest as his 4-year-old daughter, Jessica, was snatched from his arms. The pain is nothing compared to his heartache: His daughter Jessica is missing.
(END VIDEO CLIP) GRACE: In Sanford, Florida, a father is attacked, nearly fatally, all in an effort to get his 4-year-old daughter away from him. She has now been kidnapped. To the editor of the "Sanford Herald," Steve Parity is with us.
Steve, what happened?
STEVE PARADIS, EDITOR, "SANFORD HERALD": Well, Nancy, this is what we know. On Saturday night, just before 10:00, a woman named Leticia Martinez and four men knocked on the door of an apartment here in Sanford, and police said Leticia demanded the return of her daughter. That`s Jessica Vargas Beatriz, who is 4.
And Jessica, the daughter, who was with her biological father, Eduardo Vargas, he was in the apartment and refused to hand her over. A fight ensued, and four men in the apartment, including the father, were stabbed in the fight. And one of the men who lived in the apartment, a guy named Osman Riviera Alvardo (ph), 29 years old, he died later in the hospital.
GRACE: Right. To Marc Klaas, president of Beyond Missing, what`s your take on the case?
MARC KLAAS, FOUNDER OF BEYOND MISSING: Well, first of all, if ever a case has risen to the level of Amber Alert, this would be it, yet no Amber Alert was issued. I mean, my goodness, somebody died.
This is really interesting in that this is something that`s going to be dealt with in the Latino community. The mother was just up from Mexico. The father doesn`t speak English. What we need in this country and what we have at Beyond Missing, quite frankly, are Spanish-language flyers, and we need outreach to Spanish-language media, Telemundo and all of those amazing radio stations that exist, particularly along the border area.
People have to understand that there are 20 million American citizens who speak Spanish as a primary language. And we have to be able to get into those, you know, into those homes with Spanish-language flyers and with Spanish-language alerts, because that`s where the case exists, and that`s where the case will be solved.
GRACE: To Mike Brooks, former D.C. cop and former fed with the FBI, Mike, I believe this child is still alive. What I don`t understand is why police are not naming the biological mom as a suspect. You`ve got somebody stabbed to death on the apartment floor. The father is stabbed in the chest. He nearly dies, by the way. And the baby`s gone.
MIKE BROOKS, FORMER D.C. POLICE: Yes, I think the baby`s still alive, too, Nancy. And they have put out a lookout for her and the compact car that she was last seen in leaving the apartment.
Apparently, she came there. It sounds to me like it was planned. She came there with four men to get the baby back. And she was going to get that baby back one way or the other, Nancy. Four people stabbed, one fatally. Then, she left with one of the stabbers and the child in this white compact car that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement has put a lookout for.
The other car, gone, don`t have a good lookout on that, as of yet. But they`re going to need also contact the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, and work with them, because, number one, are these people who were involved in this, did they come into the country legally? Are they going to have any fingerprints on file?
They`re going to go ahead and do the crime scene of the apartment, and I`m sure they`re going to glean some evidence from there. But is there anything to compare that evidence to, Nancy? I`m talking about fingerprint evidence and those kinds of things.
GRACE: Well, back to Marc Klaas. Marc, this isn`t just about the kidnapping of a child, because I believe the mother has the child. This is a murder. This is a stabbing death where a guy was left to bleed to death on the apartment floor.
KLAAS: Yes, that`s absolutely correct. And I think, again, that`s why this should have been an immediate Amber Alert. But what we have now is a little girl who was in the custody of somebody who is willing to kill. And I mean, my goodness, if there`s ever been a child endangered, it`s this child.
One would hope that they would have alerts out on the borders so that this individual could be caught if they`re trying to get across the border. And, again, certainly, you know, get this stuff out into the Latino community, because this truly is where this case is going to be solved, and obviously sooner rather than later. We know that, as time goes on, it becomes more and more difficult to recover these children alive. The probability goes down greatly.
GRACE: Well, of course, if a child is traveling with a murderer, Jean Casarez, with Court TV, what else can you tell us?
JEAN CASAREZ, COURT TV: You know, Nancy, there`s a lot of crimes here. You`ve got kidnapping. You`ve got murder. You`ve got various theories of that murder, felony murder or premeditation. You could have a death case.
And this mother, the family is from Mexico, so they could be traveling toward the border. We know how Mexico feels about extraditing someone that is facing the death penalty. So one reason they could not be naming her as a suspect, just focusing in on the care of the child is because of that concern, that she could be fleeing to Mexico and they will never get her back.
GRACE: Out to the lines, William in Texas. Hi, William. Hi, dear, what`s your question?
CALLER: Hello. I was wondering how effective is the Amber Alert as to when people actually -- or have the kids that are out there, that actually be put on the Amber Alert, how effective is it?
GRACE: You mean does it work? Yes, until these people cross the Mexican border, Marc Klaas, I think Amber Alert is very helpful.
KLAAS: Well, I think an Amber Alert can even be effective in Mexico, but I think the whole Amber Alert concept has gotten a little bit out of whack, because what you have to do is you have to put the child in the middle of any kind of an Amber Alert distribution, whether it`s via radio stations, television stations, flyers out to service stations, et cetera.
And if you do that, and you create a 200- to 400-mile radius, you`re going to have a much greater chance of recovering the child than if you just go on a state-based system.
GRACE: So bottom line, it is effective. And there is no Amber Alert here.
To psychotherapist Dr. Robi Ludwig, what effect is this going to have on a 4-year-old little girl that saw her father stabbed in the chest, saw another man stabbed to death?
DR. ROBI LUDWIG, PSYCHOTHERAPIST: It`s very dramatic and very traumatizing. And 4-year-olds can remember what goes on in their history, especially seeing the father in pain. And if the mother was somehow involved in this, it`s going to put her right in the middle. So this is very dangerous for a child. And, also, we don`t know what the mother`s going to do with the child, if the child (INAUDIBLE) that`s what concerns me.
GRACE: ... the relationship with these guys that would stab her husband and leave her for dead?
LUDWIG: She obviously had some relationship with them. And in some cases, when women get violent, they use men to do the dirty work for them, due to physical size or just not wanting to do it themselves.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... that I received -- I got hurt, and then everything was over. I came out last. I didn`t see anything else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRACE: A father stabbed, nearly fatally; another man dead. The objective? To get the 4-year-old daughter away. And tonight, the possible suspect: the baby`s mother. That`s right. Take a look, these two on the run, we believe with four other males.
Jean Casarez, question for Marc Klaas?
CASAREZ: Yes, I do. Thanks, Nancy. Marc, I had a question about the Amber Alert. Are there any criteria for what has to be in place in order to issue that alert?
GRACE: Can it be domestic?
KLAAS: Well, yes, there absolutely is. You have to have a child of a certain age. She certainly fits that criteria. The child`s life has to be endangered, and you need to have information that you can share with the public so they can help recover the child.
So have you suspects; you have the mother; you have the vehicle; you have a little girl; you have a dead man; and you have a father that`s been stabbed three times. And I think we have to point out that you get these little kids into Mexico and it becomes extremely difficult to recover them.
GRACE: And, Dr. Robi Ludwig, what were you saying about women getting men to do their dirty work? I mean, I can`t imagine, "Hey, can you go stab my ex?"
LUDWIG: Oh, but there are many women, they`re very angry, they`re enraged. They feel they don`t have the physical size to actually do the damage, so they manipulate men or pay men to do the job for them.
GRACE: And to Mike Brooks. Any chance of apprehending this bunch before they get to Mexico?
BROOKS: There could be, Nancy. But, again, trying to identify who these people are is going to be the most difficult part I see in this particular case. And the other thing is, we`re going to need to find out also if this woman has any kind of bank records. Does she have a cell phone account that we can try to maybe track the cell phone traffic on to exactly where she`s going? As we`ve talked about in other cases, you can track it, as long as the phone is on. And we follow the pinging, and it might lead right to her.
GRACE: Thank you, Robi and Mike. Tip line: 1-800-423-TIPS.