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Victoria woman charged with kidnapping 8-month-old, burglary

By Sonny Long
July 17, 2013 at 7:17 a.m.
Updated July 18, 2013 at 7:18 a.m.


A Victoria woman could face a lifetime in prison if indicted and convicted on Fourth of July kidnapping charges.

Jessica Ann Barraza, 35, was arrested in Karnes County on July 4, two hours after kidnapping an 8-month-old former relative from Cuero, according to email sent from Cuero Police Chief Jay Lewis.

She is in the DeWitt County Jail charged with kidnapping, with a $20,000 bond, and burglary of a habitation with the intent to commit another felony, with a $50,000 bond.

The range of punishment, if indicted and convicted, runs from five years to life on the burglary charge and 99 years for kidnapping, said DeWitt County District Attorney Michael Sheppard.

Sheppard said his office expects to receive the case from the Cuero Police Department this week.

The next available grand jury to seek an indictment convenes in August.

On July 4, Cuero Police responded to a call at 9:11 a.m. in the 400 block of King Street after reports of a child abduction by Barraza, a former sister-in-law of the child's mother, Janice Garibay.

Garibay was at work and not home at the time of the kidnapping.

The child was in the care of another adult relative and was sleeping in his crib when the abduction occurred, Lewis said.

Another child in the home witnessed the kidnapping and gave a description of Barraza and her vehicle to police.

Officers obtained a cellphone number for Barraza and called her. She denied knowledge of the abduction and hung up, Lewis said.

Cuero officers, with assistance from DeWitt County Sheriff's Office dispatch, immediately issued alerts via Amber Alert, COPsync, AT&T, Texas Crime Information Center and National Crime Information Center.

"We used all the modern tools possible at our disposal," Lewis said.

About 11:20 a.m., Barraza approached a truck driver parked on the side of the road just inside the Karnes County line.

Truck driver Richard Chavez told police that she said she had done something bad and confessed to taking the child.

Chavez took the baby out of her car and placed him into another vehicle, Lewis said.

Chavez told police he then removed her car keys from the ignition and called 911, reaching Victoria County Sheriff's Office dispatch.

A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper and Karnes County Sheriff's Office personnel arrived and took custody of the child and Barraza, Lewis said.

Both were taken to Karnes County, where the child was reunited with his mother.

Barraza was later transferred to the DeWitt County jail.

"The wheels were in motion to locate her had she not stopped," said Lewis. "We had requested AT&T to ping her cellphone. And we had all the alerts in place."

The police chief said shortly after Barraza confessed to the truck driver, both Chavez and the mechanic received cellphone alerts about the kidnapping.

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