CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) -- A day after a mother was reunited with her 6-year-old daughter, a woman is in jail accused of taking the girl and the child spent a happy Saturday horseback riding and eating pizza.
A police lieutenant who helped bring about the reunion Friday after a five-year separation between young Marche Ramirez and her mother, Gloria Robinson, said the child told him during their outing Saturday: "This is the best day of my life."
"We went out and rode horses and had lunch together," Lt. Kelly Lowe said.
He learned that Marche loves cheese pizza, Lowe said.
"She seems to be doing really well," he said.
The lieutenant said mother and daughter will return soon to their hometown of Salt Lake City, but for now they're enjoying their time in southeastern New Mexico.
Robinson, who had initially lost custody of her two children almost six years ago, regained custody of her daughter about five years ago. It has been a frustrating hunt for a moving target ever since. Robinson was notified by Lowe on Friday that Marche had been found.
"The reunion went extremely well," Lowe said.
Lowe was drawn into the case a year ago with the allegation that Faye Castrillo, the woman accused of taking the girl, had brought Marche to the Carlsbad area.
After Robinson initially lost custody, the father moved the family to Indiana and remarried, Lowe said. Castrillo was the husband's new mother-in-law, Lowe explained.
Meanwhile, Robinson stayed in Utah and "stabilized her life," Lowe said. In about a year, she began reseeking custody, Lowe said, and her plea was granted. However, Castrillo allegedly had the child.
Robinson called Lowe last November, but he couldn't help because he lacked authority to enforce her out-of-state court order.
A month later, Robinson called back with a new court order that Lowe could enforce, but by then Castrillo had left Carlsbad with the child.
Last week, Robinson again called Lowe with information that Castrillo, 62, and Marche were living with relatives in Carlsbad. A search warrant was issued, the house was searched Friday and the child was found.
Castrillo was arrested on a charge of custodial interference, but Lowe said he would try to take it further.
Lowe said the child knew of Gloria Robinson but considered her a stepmother.
The child and mother spent several hours together at the police station before Marche was released into Robinson's custody.
They left the station holding hands.
"I'm truly ecstatic over it," Lowe said. "I've got feelings that affected me today unlike the feelings of any other case I worked."
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)