The girl who chewed through restraints was held captive with the bodies of her mother and brother, says the sheriff

The girl who chewed through restraints was held captive with the bodies of her mother and brother, says the sheriff

A 12-year-old girl who was held captive for a week in an RV with what turned out to be the decomposing, dismembered remains of her mother and brother provided key information that led to the arrest by the woman’s live-in boyfriend, authorities said Thursday.

The girl, who gnawed through restraints to escape from the residence while the man was gone “is a hero for surviving the incident and coming forward with the information she gave us to charge him,” Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett said.

The child was discovered along a country road by a passerby after the escape on Monday, and the child is now safely in the custody of state child welfare authorities. Her suspenders were damaged from the chewing and marks on her wrists indicated she had been tied, authorities said.

The girl was assaulted and used alcohol to keep her in a daze, and fled after chewing her way through the ties that held her down on a bed, authorities said in court documents.

José Paulino Pascual-Reyes, 37, was charged with kidnapping and multiple counts of capital murder in the slayings of what authorities said were the girl’s 29-year-old mother and her son, who court records show was younger than 14.

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Jose Paulino Pascual-Reyes

Tallapoosa County Jail


“They were boyfriend and girlfriend,” Abbett said of Pascual-Reyes and the girl’s mother. “They actually all lived there.”

The kidnapping charge alleges that the girl was held hostage against her will, not that she was physically abducted from other locations and taken to the home, Abbett noted.

The girl was captured on July 24 around the time her mother and brother were killed, authorities say, and police found two dismembered bodies in the camper after the child escaped Monday morning. Abbett declined to comment on whether the girl knew the fate of her mother and brother while she was still a hostage, but the dismembered remains were found inside the home.

Pascual-Reyes was arrested Monday night while working at a construction site in Auburn, more than 20 miles from the RV. He is being held without a bond.

Defense attorney Mark Carlton said he and another attorney had just been appointed to represent Pascual-Reyes and declined immediate comment, saying they had not yet had a chance to meet with him.

Reyes, who is from Mexico, was in the country illegally after being deported and returned without proper documentation, Abbett said. It was not clear when he last entered the United States, the sheriff said, but the group had been living in the RV since February.

Ceja and the two children entered the United States from Mexico in 2017 and stayed after seeking asylum, but their claims had not yet been determined by immigration officials, the sheriff said.

While a few other people live near the mobile home and others had lived in the residence, there is no indication that anyone else knew about the killings or that the girl was being held against her will, Abbett said.

No one has come forward with information, he said.

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