Alleged kidnapper caught
Lyons, McCook police apprehend him at motel
By Steve Metsch
Lyons police found a woman hiding in a McCook hotel room closet after they were tipped off by friends of a man who allegedly kidnapped her in Texas three days prior
Erika Rios Valdez, 32, of Liberty County, Texas, was found at the Skyline Motel, 8136 W. Joliet Road, around 1:30 a.m. New Year’s Day.
She had been allegedly kidnapped on Dec. 29 at gunpoint in Texas by Abel Fajardo, who is police custody and awaits extradition. Liberty County is northeast of Houston.
Fajardo apparently drove Valdez roughly 1,000 miles to Illinois, police said, and then dropped his pickup truck off in Cicero.
He then asked friends to drive him and the woman to the Skyline Motel on Dec. 31. They did, and promptly went to the Lyons Police Department after leaving the motel, concerned by what they saw.
Chief Tom Herion was on duty that night.
“They said they had dropped off (Fajardo), and that the woman with him looked she was scared to death,” Herion said on Jan. 4.
Lyons and McCook police apprehended a man who allegedly kidnapped a woman in Texas. File photo.
Fajardo’s friends told Herion they thought Fajardo had abducted the woman.
Herion, assistant police chief James Young and four Lyons officers went to the hotel where they met two McCook officers outside Room 5.
Herion knocked on the door. Fajardo was taken into custody after a brief struggle, he said. There were no injuries, Herion said.
When officers were in the motel room, Herion told them to check the closet, which is where they found Valdez.
Liberty County Sheriff had alerted Illinois law enforcement agencies to keep an eye out for Fajardo and his pickup truck.
“When he left here, he had Illinois license plates on his truck, so logic will tell there was a good chance he’d end up that way,” Capt. Ken Defoor, public information officer for the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, said on Jan. 4.
Asked if Fajardo and Valdez were involved in some sort of relationship, Defoor said: “We’re using the word acquaintances. We do know they knew each other. We don’t know anything beyond that.”
He expects Fajardo will eventually be returned to Texas to face charges.
“There’s all kind of legal work that has to be done, extradition papers, all that paperwork to go through, “ Defoor said. “Chances are, in all probability, this case will be turned over to the FBI because he did go over state lines.”
“It is an aggravated kidnapping case, of course,” Defoor said. “That’s probably going to be one of them.”
Fajardo allegedly abducted Valdez outside her home, he said. She was in the process of unhooking a trailer from her vehicle, when Fajardo approached her with a gun, Defoor said
She had some bruises and scratches, but her injuries were not considered life-threatening, Defoor said. She was taken to the Amita La Grange Hospital for observation and released.
“It is an aggravated kidnapping case of course,” Defoor said. “That’s probably going to be one of them.”
McCook Police Cmdr. David DeLeshe said “I think (Fajardo) knew it was coming, but we caught him a little off-guard at 1:30 in the morning.”
Fajardo has family in the area, DeLeshe said:“ He was familiar with the area. He did live here at one time.”
The woman “did know who he was and he, for whatever reason, he abducted her at gunpoint. I don’t know if they had a relationship in the past,” DeLeshe said.
Fajardo works in construction and knew the woman after doing some work for the woman’s family, DeLeshe said.
Fajardo’s truck was found by Cicero police in that town on Saturday, Herion said. It was towed to the McCook police and is part of the invesitigation.
Defoor spoke highly of the Lyons and McCook police.
“Their work is indescribable,” he said. “Their cooperation was phenomenal. Their professionalism, resourcefulness, dedication and follow-up could not be beat. We could not have asked for anything better. They handled it and no one was injured.”
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