Brandon Cuellar kidnapping: Suspects tried to take 3-month-old multiple times, DA says

Zach Fuentes Image
Friday, May 13, 2022
SJ kidnapping suspects tried to take child multiple times, DA says
The suspects accused of kidnapping 3-month-old Brandon Cuellar in San Jose had tried to take the child before, the DA confirmed Thursday.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The suspects accused of kidnapping 3-month-old Brandon Cuellar in San Jose last month had tried to take the child before, the Santa Clara County DA said Thursday.

Additional kidnapping charges were announced against suspects Yesenia Ramirez and Jose Roman Portillo during a press conference with the deputy DA.

RELATED: Brandon Cuellar kidnapping: Suspect Yesenia Ramirez deported 3 times to El Salvador, says DHS

The suspects allegedly tried to take the child on at least three other occasions in the weeks before the actual kidnapping, with one of the suspects once posing as a Child Protective Services worker, the DA says.

According to the DA, about a month and a half before the kidnapping, a man showed up at the 3-month-old's home and identified himself as CPS worker.

The family called CPS, who said that they had not sent anyone to the home to take Brandon.

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

The "CPS worker" reportedly then left when the family did not give him Brandon. The DA says an investigation showed that Portillo was the "CPS worker."

Ramirez was reportedly at the victim's home when this happened.

The investigation also uncovered that Ramirez and Portillo allegedly planned to kidnap Brandon at a Walmart twice, once on March 28 and the other time in the morning on the day of the actual kidnapping. In the first attempt, they were reportedly unable to switch shopping carts in order for Portillo to leave the store with the baby, and on the second attempt, they were reportedly unable to distract his grandmother.

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

The motive for the crime remains under investigation.

The kidnapping last month sparked a frantic search for the child, who was taken by a man carrying a car seat while his grandmother was unloading groceries outside her San Jose home. That man was identified by police as Portillo.

Portillo was allegedly working with the grandmother's friend, Ramirez, who was with Brandon's grandmother her Walmart and helping take care of Brandon that day.

The attorney for Ramirez, Cody Salfen, spoke after she and Portillo went before the judge Thursday.

"There's a difference between allegations and facts," Salfen said. "We have allegations right now, the actual substantive evidence that would presumably underlie these charges has not been provided."

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