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Man and son reunited after parental abduction

Modified: Monday, Apr 15th, 2013

WATSONVILLE — A Watsonville man was reunited with his 2-year-old son Friday a year after the boy was abducted by his estranged mother, the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s office announced Monday.

According to District Attorney’s Inspector Raul Castellanos, the parents were sharing custody of the boy, who was then 1.

The father was in the process of filing for sole custody, Castellanos said.

The father, Carlos Zepeda, realized something was wrong when he went to pick up his son from his mother from her San Jose home in May 2012.

Zepeda called the Santa Cruz District Attorney's Office Investigations Bureau to report that his son had been abducted by his estranged wife, Maria Cortez.

“He went to pick up son for his weekend visit, and he was gone,” Castellanos said.

After Zepeda told police that his ex-wife has family in Houston, Texas, investigators located the boy and arrested the mother. She is in custody in Houston on abduction charges, awaiting extradition to California.

The boy was taken into protective custody.

"Within 24 hours we had someone in the air, and he was back home,” Castellanos said.

According to the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office, the Investigations Bureau routinely investigates Child Abduction Cases, with inspectors working with the Family Court and traveling throughout the U.S. and foreign countries to recover abducted children.

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