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Minnesota Authorities Charge Kidnap Suspect

Minnesota Authorities Charge Kidnap Suspect

Posted - May 9, 2003 at 12:08 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Minnesota authorities have filed a state charge against a man facing possible federal penalties for taking an 11-year-old girl from her home.

Antonio P. Andrade, 21, was being held in Salt Lake City on a federal kidnapping charge, which could be dropped if prosecutors conclude Cindy Jeannette Bruno went with Andrade willingly from her St. Cloud, Minn., home.

Stearns County (Minn.) Attorney Janelle Kendall on Friday charged Andrade in state court with deprivation of parental rights as a backup measure should federal prosecutors drop their case.

The state charge is a felony but has a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a $4,000 fine. Kendall said the charge could be upgraded later, depending on what investigators learn from Andrade or Cindy, who was expected to return home later Friday.

"I did not want to chance the feds stepping away and not having something in place," Kendall said.

If federal prosecutors decide not to pursue the case, Kendall said, she will seek to extradite him to Minnesota.

Cindy was reported missing by her mother in St. Cloud, Minn. The disappearance prompted an Amber Alert, the national system of notifying law enforcement and the media about suspected child kidnappings.

The FBI filed a criminal complaint late Wednesday charging Andrade with kidnapping. But Andrade has not been indicted, an action that would formalize a federal case against him.

"There's indications she went willingly," U.S. Attorney Paul Warner said Thursday.

"I don't want to say categorically that there is no violation but there's probably not a kidnapping violation and that is by far and away the most serious charge," Warner said.

Andrade appeared in U.S. District Court on Thursday, when a detention hearing was scheduled for Monday. Until then, Warner's Utah office planned to work with the U.S. Attorney in Minnesota to determine whether the federal charge would stand.

"We're trying to find out what really happened. Who did what, when, where and so forth," Warner said. "Until they have a real clear cut picture of what exactly happened back there, we're going to be very careful about how we're proceeding."

Authorities were studying a letter found at her Minnesota home to determine whether Cindy went willingly. Written in Spanish, authorities said the letter was translated as, "Don't look for me."

Cindy's mother, Rosemary Bruno, expressed relief Thursday.

"I am glad they found my daughter. I want to thank God for giving me the strength to go through all of these."

Andrade has several aliases and lived in Provo, Utah, about two years ago.

Police in Provo made the call to activate the Amber Alert in Utah, in part because Andrade has a valid Utah driver's license that lists a Provo address, said Provo police spokeswoman Karen Mayne.

Around 9:30 p.m., Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Randy Richey was checking the Internet to calculate how long it would take to drive from the girl's home in St. Cloud to Utah when he spotted a green minivan with out-of-state license plates.

Richey followed the van, confirmed it was the vehicle mentioned in the Amber Alert and pulled Andrade over.

"There was a little bit of disbelief. 'No, that can't be it,"' Richey said.

Richey said Thursday he didn't immediately recognize Cindy because she appeared to be older -- age 15 or 16.

"I was unsure whether she was the girl we were looking for, or another suspect," Richey said. Cindy was placed in handcuffs until her identity was confirmed.

Andrade remained in federal custody on the kidnapping charge Thursday. A detention hearing was scheduled for Monday.

Patrol spokesman Doug McCleve said the van was southbound on U.S. 40, headed toward Heber City and possibly to Provo, when Richey spotted it shortly before 9:30 p.m. McCleve said Cindy appeared fine and talked to troopers.

Andrade had lived with the family for a short time, Minnesota authorities said. Wilson said leads stretched to Mexico, Georgia and South Carolina besides Utah.

Mayne said that Andrade did not appear to have a criminal history in Provo.

St. Cloud Police Capt. Richard Wilson said he believes a crime was committed.

"Whichever way, it was kidnapping," he said. "An 11-year-old cannot give consent to leave home with a man in the middle of the night."

Cindy was last seen by her mother about midnight Tuesday in the girl's bedroom. Wilson said there was no sign of struggle in the room, where Cindy's younger sister also slept.

According to an affidavit filed in Minnesota, the girl and Andrade whispered to each other Tuesday night but refused to tell Cindy's mother what they discussed. During the past month, the girl had talked about getting married and going to Mexico, the affidavit stated.

The document did not identify Andrade as the girl's boyfriend, but quoted witnesses who said they saw Andrade hugging the girl "in an inappropriate manner."

Wilson said investigators considered Cindy to be in danger, given her age and the time and nature of her disappearance.

Andrade stayed with the family while he looked for work, but he decided to head for Utah or South Carolina after he was unsuccessful, said Kevin Smith, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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