Bay Area woman kidnapped in Mexico last year returned home, family and friends say

Tara Campbell Image
Monday, July 17, 2023
Bay Area woman kidnapped in Mexico last year returned home, FBI says
San Mateo resident Monica De Leon Barba is on the way back to the U.S. to be reunited with her family and her dog -- after eight months in captivity.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- There is finally relief for the friends and family and Monica De Leon Barba.

"Waking up tomorrow I think we can all breathe a little bit easier, and it's a much happier day because of it," said Anissa Livas friend of De Leon Barba.

Surveillance video captured the moment the San Mateo woman was abducted in Mexico and held captive for eight months. On Nov. 29, 2022, she was kidnapped in Tepatitlán, Jalisco, Mexico, as she was walking home from work with her dog, the FBI said.

Livas was leading the charge to bring her friend home, pressuring everyone, from local officials to President Biden.

RELATED: Video released by FBI shows moment San Mateo woman is kidnapped in Mexico

"You know, I'm not sure how much our efforts helped to bring her home. I'd like to think they helped a little bit, but we're just so happy she's back," Livas said.

In March, the FBI announced a $40,000 reward for information about her disappearance, also releasing video of the kidnapping.

In the first video you can see De Leon Barba walking her dog just blocks away from her home near Guadalajara. She is then confronted and forced into a vehicle. Her dog runs free.

On Saturday, the FBI announced that De Leon Barba was released by her captors Friday night.

RELATED: FBI offering $40,000 reward for Bay Area woman kidnapped in Mexico

It said in a statement: "The FBI is pleased to announce that Monica De Leon Barba is safe and en route to the United States where she will be reunited with her family and dog after eight months in captivity. No arrests have been made and an investigation into the identities of her captors is ongoing."

De Leon Barba's brother Gustavo posted a photo Saturday with his sister on a plane, writing: "For the first time in a very long time we have good news! I need to thank every single person that helped my family and I through this entire ordeal. We can all finally close this chapter in our lives and work on the long road of healing we have ahead."

Gustavo told ABC7 News the family isn't ready to speak publicly, but the family did give her friends the go-ahead to talk with us.

"It's just been such a crazy eight months, and it's been really exhausting, and it's just crazy that we're here and Monica's safe," said friend Valerie Sherwood.

"We're eager to see her, but understanding that she may need some space and time but just very, very happy that she's back home," Livas said.

No arrests have been made as authorities continue to search for the suspects.

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