Pimp Kidnapped Victim's Baby And Left Her In A Shed In The Desert, Police Say
The Amber Alert sent out to SoCal residents this weekend was resolved after a bizarre case unraveled and authorities found the missing girl abandoned in a shed in the desert. Authorities set off an Amber Alert for a 13-month-old girl identified as Penelope Rodriguez on Saturday after she was reported kidnapped from a Palmdale motel. The girl was safely recovered, but the story of how this all came about is a convoluted one.
Authorities say the girl's mother, 40, was a sex worker who was staying with her daughter at a Motel 6 in Palmdale, KTLA reports. At about 3 a.m. on Saturday, the mother was allegedly kidnapped by her pimp, 33-year-old Brandon Wynn, who raped and tortured her in the motel room as revenge for supposedly using drugs and stealing money. The pimp then kidnapped the woman and took her out into the desert where the attack continued.
The woman said that Wynn eventually told her that he was going to go back to the motel to get the baby, then left her alone in the desert, naked.
The woman went looking for help. Police say she may have run anywhere from one to four miles, knocking on the door of the first home she found. As harrowing as the situation had become, police say the woman initially lied to officers when reporting her daughter's kidnapping at about 6:30 a.m. to try to protect Wynn. Therefore, the Amber Alert contained details about a man who investigators later determined wasn't involved.
Investigators said that in the woman's case, the "trauma bonds" were so strong that she was willing to lie, even with her daughter in jeopardy. Trauma bonding is defined as the bond an abuser creates with his or her victim via manipulation and cycles of abuse. It's common in cases of human trafficking.
Eventually, investigators were able to identify Wynn as a suspect. They spotted Wynn at about 3 p.m. on Saturday when he was driving near East Avenue T-8 and 40th Street East in Palmdale. He was accompanied by a 16-year-old boy. Both were arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and revealed to police where the girl could be found. Police discovered Penelope Rodriguez strapped in her car seat in the middle of a storage shed in Antelope Valley, only about a half-mile away from where the men were stopped by police.
Police believe there are other victims that Wynn has been trafficking, and said that Wynn is not Penelope's father.
Penelope was taken to the hospital for exposure, but has been released and is now in the care of child welfare services, according to City News Service. The girl's mother was also taken to the hospital to be treated for injuries sustained during the assault. The woman is not expected to face criminal charges, but instead will be assigned a victim advocate and connected to social services.