By Marissa Pendergrass - email
SALINAS, Calif.- On Tuesday, the frantic search for a missing 10-month-old Castroville baby, came to an end when her body was found in Salinas. We're learning more about why an Amber Alert was never issued for Angelle Negron.
We decided to dig deeper into how the system works and if it could ever change. But first, Tuesday's grim discovery made the hearts of everyone involved, a little heavier. We want to walk you through the timeline of the search for baby Angelle, that took more than two weeks.
It all started February 2nd. That's the last day Susan Morales saw her baby girl, Angelle. That's the same day she said her boyfriend took the baby for a routine visit, allegedly heading to Disneyland.
Two weeks later on Saturday, February 16th, Monterey County Sheriff Scott Miller said Morales and her family reported little Angelle missing. Then on Monday night at 5:30pm, 17 days since the family last saw Angelle, Los Angeles Police Department found the mother's boyfriend, 47-year-old Jesus Espinoza Jr., at a public transit station in the area. But still, no baby Angelle.
Authorities Espinoza was cooperative in leading them to baby Angelle's body, covered up by some brush near a tree trunk on the outskirts of Salinas on Market Street, near the David Road overpass.
"With the assistance of our search and rescue cadaver dogs, who located her buried in an area near the overpass," Miller said.
Espinoza was moved to the Monterey County Jail, where he still sits on a million dollars bail. Angelle's mom, told Central Coast News, that Espinoza is not Angelle's biological father. As of now, investigators don't know how, when, or where baby Angelle was killed before being dumped in Salinas. Authorities said the coroner will conduct an autopsy on baby Angelle on Wednesday. Still no word on when Espinoza will be in court, on the murder charge.
Angelle Negron's family is speaking with us about how frustrating it was to not have an Amber Alert sent out to the public.
"I think the piece about not having a vehicle associated with the individual is the biggest issue because every Amber Alert I'm familiar with has a vehicle associated with it," said Monterey County Sheriff Scott Miller, about the very specific guidelines, via the Department of Justice, for Amber Alerts.
Miller said without something specific, like a license plate, activating an Amber Alert doesn't help the search. In this case, the suspect, Jesus Espinoza Jr., rode a bus down to Los Angeles. There wasn't a license plate number and that kept them from issuing an Amber Alert. The sheriff's department said Tuesday night it doesn't think Espinoza ever travelled with the baby. For that reason, the sheriff's department felt an Amber Alert would essentially be pointless. But we spoke with the family to get their take on the issue.
Angelle's mom, Susan Morales said she's feeling some sense of closure knowing her 10-month-old baby was found. But not knowing for 17 days, makes her think something could've been done differently to bring her home alive.
"We needed our daughter home sooner and if we would've moved faster maybe we could've done something," said mom Susan Morales.
Earlier this week we told you, there's four requirements law enforcement need to meet before issuing an Amber Alert:
1. Is there proof someone took the child without consent?
2. Is the child 17 years old or younger?
3. Is the child in imminent danger of serious injury or death?
4. Is there enough information that if given to the public, it could help find the child?
That last requirement includes something like a license plate number. Angelle's mom said for the sake of her baby and other children who've gone missing, something needs to change.
"There needs to be some kind of other alert that needs to help out these missing children, who go missing everyday," Morales said.
Kids like missing 15-year-old Sierra LaMar from Morgan Hill. An Amber Alert wasn't issued in this case because police didn't have a license plate number for her murder suspect Antonlin Garcia-Torres. Sierra's body still hasn't been found. But Monterey County Sheriff Scott Miller there are other powerful tools to help find a suspect and a victim, like special databases and the media. Angelle's mom said she wishes it was less confusing for families desperately searching for their loved one.
"We asked numerous times they told us that there was one and it was kind of questionable we went on the internet, we found out later that there wasn't one," Morales said.
We reached out to several of our local lawmakers to see if there's anything that can be done at the state or federal level to improve the Amber Alert system and haven't heard back yet. We will let you know what they have to say when we hear back.