Florida father fabricated story of 3-year-old’s abduction, police say

Florida

APOPKA, Fla. (WFLA) — A father who said his 3-year-old daughter had been abducted from outside his home in Apopka was not forthcoming with authorities when he first reported the girl missing.

Florida Highway Patrol trooper safely recovered the 3-year-old girl Monday inside a vehicle they stopped on Interstate 10 near Tallahassee.

Police said the girl was taken without force by her biological mother and her mothers’ boyfriend.

Courtesy FHP

The mother, Tania Duarte, acknowledged to police that she did not have custody of the girl.

Duarte and her boyfriend, Kevin Smith Olmedo-Velis, were arrested on warrants obtained by the Apopka Police Department for interference with child custody and booked into the Leon County Jail.

Police said a story Mejia told about his daughter being kidnapped while he went inside to get his keys was a lie. Instead, police said he was at work when Duarte came and took her daughter.

When police interviewed Mejia for a second time he told them he was contacted by a relative while at work and told Duarte had taken the child.

Mejia said he called 911 on his way home from work, but said a dispatcher told him that no crime had been committed.

Mejia had told police Monday morning that he’d gone inside to get his keys and when he went back outside after hearing a scream, he saw a man driving away with the girl. He told investigators that he followed the car on the Florida Turnpike all the way to I-75 before he lost track of it.

Mejia said he was scared he would not see his daughter again so he made up the abduction story in hopes it would assist in recovering his daughter, police said.

Police said that although Mejia was not forth coming with the information gave investigators, he did have lawful custody of his daughter and Duarte unlawfully took her.

Police said the investigation into the case is ongoing.

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