Five years after her baby boy was abducted, Leilani Masumoto is looking forward to finally spending a Christmas with him.
The San Diego mom told NBC7 her autistic son, Keoni, was kidnapped by the boy's father, Julio Rocha, after she gained full custody of the child when he was 2 years old. Rocha allegedly fled to Mexico City with Keoni then abandoned him with the boy's grandparents.
“I haven't really celebrated Christmas or his birthday or anything," she told the station. "I was just waiting to get him back home. This will be our first Christmas together."
Officials at the San Diego County District Attorney's Office said Thursday that they learned of Keoni's whereabouts after a young woman's school project in Mexico uncovered a poster on the missing child from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The girl recognized the boy in the poster as one of her neighbors and contacted the authorities.
Once they learned of Keoni's past, his Mexican grandparents voluntarily turned him over last week at the Mexico City airport; the boy then flew home to San Diego.
“It was the most heart-wrenching return I have ever seen,” recalled DA Investigator Carole Snyder in a press release. “The grandmother and the aunt knew this would be the last time they saw Keoni. The boy’s mother, Leilani Masumoto, who had not seen her son in five years, bonded like they were meant to be as soon as they were reunited at the airport.”
CBS Los Angeles reports that Julio Rocha has yet to be apprehended and is believed to be living in the United States. Anyone with information has been asked to call (619) 531-4345.
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