Eight-day-old baby Sofia Gonzalez went missing this past Thursday, after her mother, Laura Abarca-Nogueda, 27, was discovered shot to death in their Witchita, Kansas, home. It was a long weekend for all involved, darkened by the tragedy of murder and abduction, but now brightened at the discovery of the healthy and unharmed infant.
After an intense interstate hunt, police found Baby Sofia in Dallas, Texas. Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay added that two suspects are in custody for taking the baby, but did not give more details on their identity or any other pending charges.
At a press conference, Ramsay noted that the recovery is bittersweet, given that Sofia’s mother was taken from her by violence. Still, he added, “This is the best possible outcome to a very sad case.”
The incident occurred last Thursday after Abarca-Nogueda, a worker at a Kansas Chipotle, was found dead by her partner, Sofia’s dad. The FBI rapidly got involved, and national media reported the story, alerting citizens to be on the lookout for Baby Sofia. Chief Ramsay expressed gratitude for those efforts, as well as for the work of the Dallas Police department. He said they “dropped everything” to rescue Sofia.
A search warrant was reportedly executed early Saturday morning when Sofia was discovered. By 5 P.M. that afternoon, reports say Sofia was on an airplane with detectives.
Shivi Silva, the manager at the Chipotle where the victim worked, told the Witchita Eagle, “She was full of life. She cared so much about everything. She was so genuine when she was engaging with the customers.” Friends and other coworkers spoke out in memory of Abarca-Nogueda, saying her smile “lit up the room” and touched the lives of everyone she met.
No motive has been revealed. Chief Ramsay said the abductor knew the victim. Ramsay also hinted at the idea there could be more suspects and possibly even more arrests. Authorities also made very clear that Sofia’s dad is not a person of interest.
A GoFundMe account has been established with the goal of collecting donations toward raising the baby. Jose Abarca, the victim’s brother, told KWCH, “I don’t think this kind of thing will ever go away. This is the last place that my sister was alive, and its still hard that she’s gone.” Abarca added, “Sofia is pretty much the last that we have from my sister. I know her name is Sofia, but to me her name is going to be secretly Laurita, like I call her. I think she’s the image of my sister. A little Laura.”
In addition, Abarca stated that he and his entire family will step in to help care for Sofia and to raise her. He said, “I knew Sofia was out there somewhere waiting to be found. We kneeled over there where my sister’s apartment is and we prayed. And we were saying, ‘Please God, help us find Sofia alive,’ and I think God heard us.”
Main photo: Cradle [WikiMedia Commons]