Liberty Co. woman kidnapped at gunpoint found safe in Illinois

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Sunday, January 3, 2021
Woman was kidnapped at gunpoint by stalker, family says
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The family of 32-year-old Erika Rios Valdez says the man walked up to her as she was coming home from work and "just took her."

LIBERTY COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- In a great New Year's Day update, a 32-year-old woman kidnapped from Liberty County Tuesday was found safe in Illinois around 2 a.m.

According to the Liberty County Sheriff's Office, the suspect in the kidnapping, 38-year-old Abel Fajardo, was arrested, and Erika Rios Valdez was found with him, safe and unharmed.

No information was available about exactly where the two were located in Illinois, but deputies expect more information to be released later today.

Fajardo is currently in jail in Illinois, according to deputies.

According to LCSO, Fajardo kidnapped Valdez at gunpoint around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Lead investigator Shandalynn Rhame said witnesses told her that Valdez was in the process of parking and unhooking a food service trailer on CR 3404 in the Plum Grove area of north Liberty County when Fajardo drove up and forced Valdez into his pick-up truck at gunpoint.

Valdez's sister-in-law, Rosalina Bucio, spoke with Eyewitness News on Thursday and said as Fajardo fled the area, Valdez's brother chased Fajardo in his own car, but eventually lost sight of the truck.

"She was getting home from work when he came out of nowhere," recalled Bucio. "[He] took her by force, and [Valdez's brother] saw her screaming."

Valdez's family says Fajardo had been stalking her for two years after meeting him at a construction site. She owns a food service truck, according to her family, and is supposed to get married in two days.

The 32-year-old has two sons.

"We can't believe someone would do that to her," said a family member. "Everyone is really sad, devastated. Her kids, they want to see their mom again."

The video above is from previous reporting.