Prosecutors filed charges this afternoon against a Southern California grandmother accused of kidnapping her 4-month-old granddaughter from her home in unincorporated Contra Costa County over the weekend, Deputy District Attorney Nancy Georgiou said. Ericka Gallego, a 58-year-old El Monte resident, has been charged with one count of kidnapping and, if convicted, could face a maximum of 11 years in prison, Georgiou said.
Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Capt. Steve Warne said at a news conference in Martinez this afternoon that the baby’s parents had put the baby, Ramy Gallego, to bed Saturday night, and when they went to check on her at about 6 a.m. Sunday, they found her bassinet empty. The parents reported her missing, and the sheriff’s office launched a major search for the child. That night, police in El Monte received a call from an acquaintance of Ericka Gallego who said Gallego was believed to have Ramy, Warne said. El Monte police responded to the call and found Ericka Gallego with the child. They arrested Gallego, Ramy’s paternal grandmother, and placed Ramy in protective custody, Warne said.
Early this morning, four detectives from the sheriff’s office went to El Monte, where they confirmed that the baby was Ramy and that she was in good health. Investigators believe Ericka Gallego took a bus and a taxi from El Monte to Ramy’s home in Knightsen and, while Ramy’s parents were sleeping, snuck into their home in the 1500 block of Tule Lane and abducted the baby, Warne said. Ericka Gallego then allegedly called another taxi and had the driver take her and the baby back to her house in El Monte, he said. According to Warne, the child’s parents had never given Ericka Gallego permission to take the baby and had no reason to believe she had abducted her.
Detectives have interviewed Gallego, but Warne said he was not releasing details about why she allegedly took the baby. Gallego is being held in Los Angeles County Jail in lieu of $150,000. Now that formal charges have been filed, Ericka Gallego can be brought to Contra Costa County to be prosecuted. Ramy’s mother went to El Monte to pick up her child and was on her way home this afternoon, Warne said. “Everybody’s very happy that Ramy came back safely to her parents,” Warne said. He also said that while the sheriff’s office believes the kidnapping was a criminal act, “There’s no indication that the grandmother intended to harm the child. The child was in good health.”
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