Baby Brandon's mother speaks out about abduction, reuniting with 3-month-old son

Amanda del Castillo Image
Thursday, April 28, 2022

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Cameras captured 3-month-old Brandon Cuellar, but not in a photo shared by law enforcement or family. The baby at the center of Monday's kidnapping in San Jose was safely in the arms of his mother, Carolina Ayala.

In Spanish she described, "Very emotional. I felt like my soul came back into my body. When I found out that my son was missing, I felt like half of my heart had left with him. I felt like I died."

UPDATE: 1 of suspects in San Jose baby kidnapping not facing charges, police say

Three people have been arrested in connection to Monday's kidnapping. San Jose police have identified them as 28-year-old Jose Roman Portillo, 43-year-old Yesenia Guadalupe Ramirez and 37-year-old Baldomeo Sandoval. All suspects are reportedly San Jose residents.

"I know two of the people who are under investigation," Ayala shared. "I can't tell you why, because I don't even know. But there was a connection between two of the people. We know them."

The only female suspect, Guadalupe Ramirez, is described by family members as being "obsessed with baby Brandon" after meeting the baby's grandmother at church.

RELATED: Suspect met 3-month-old's grandma through church, became 'obsessed' with him, family says

Neighbors and relatives told our media partners at Univision that Guadalupe Ramirez came to the family's Elm Street home on Monday. They explained she convinced the grandmother to go with her to Walmart, so they could use food stamps to buy food and supplies for the baby.

According to police, when the women returned to the Elm St. home, Brandon was kidnapped while inside the family's upstairs apartment. His grandmother was downstairs unloading groceries.

Surveillance footage captured by a neighbor's camera shows suspect Portillo walking away with baby Brandon inside the baby carrier.

"These people- a coordinated effort- planned and took baby Brandon," SJPD Sgt. Christian Camarillo told reporters on Wednesday. "Grandma did the right thing. They went shopping. She took the baby inside before anything. Thought the baby was safe in the apartment. She was not privy- she was not aware of this plan. At this time, we don't believe she was involved at all."

Brandon's mom said she was at work, when she got the call about the kidnapping.

"Truth is, I was at work. I was at a house cleaning. I clean houses. I got a call from my sister-in-law and she was the one who told me that my baby had been kidnapped from the apartment," Ayala said. "I didn't know how to react. I fell to the ground and it was a moment that I can't explain."

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The mother continued, "It was something I lived through and I don't even know how to tell you, but it was really difficult. I hope no other mother goes through this. I pray to God that this won't happen again in my life or with my kids"

Baby Brandon was found on Tuesday morning, after a 20-hour search that ended miles from where he was taken. He was found along Mather Drive, where an employee at a nearby nursing home saw a van she found to be suspicious.

Her call to 911 led to the recovery of the baby.

Ayala explained, "When they told me my baby had been rescued, I felt like life went back in me. It was wonderful. I don't know how to explain it. I don't have words. I don't wish this upon anybody."

"I also want to ask the authorities for there to be justice," she continued. "I want the full weight of justice to fall on the people who did this."

The three suspects face charges of kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, child abduction, and home invasion.

EDITORIAL NOTE: On Thursday, April 28, 2022, Baldomeo Sandova was released from police custody. Officials say the 37-year-old will not be facing charges in the abduction of Brandon Cuellar.

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