SOUTH BEND — Pacific County Sheriff’s deputies on Monday, Sept. 18 arrested a kidnapping suspect who had been on the FBI’s “Most Wanted” list for almost three years.
In fall 2014, Berks County, Pennsylvania resident Maria Evelia Cabrera-Gutierrez, 46, was in a custody battle with her ex-boyfriend Guy Markus over their two-year-old son, Daniel. According to a news release from Pennsylvania Crime Watch, “the court proceedings did not appear to be going in her favor.”
On Nov. 14, 2014, Markus arrived home to discover that Cabrera-Gutierrez had fled with Daniel, and her older son from a previous relationship. She left behind a note that said, “When I find legal help, I’ll contact you.”
Police learned that she took the children to Texas, in violation of the custody order for Daniel. She stayed with family members and in hotels in San Antonio and Austin before police lost track of her. Investigators suspected she was headed for Mexico, where she was born.
Cabrera-Gutierrez was charged with interference with custody of children and concealment of the whereabouts of a child in Berk County. A state warrant was issued for her arrest. Later that month, she was charged in federal court with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, and a federal warrant was issued for her arrest, according to the FBI.
On Sept. 18, FBI agents contacted the Raymond Police Department, saying they believed Cabrera-Gutierrez was staying at a home on South Fork Road, outside of Raymond. The Pacific County Sheriff’s Office took over from there, because the home is in the county’s jurisdiction, Chief Criminal Deputy Pat Matlock said.
“One tip said she was living in that area under an assumed name with her two boys,” Matlock said. He and Lt. Jim Bergstrom spoke with detectives in Pennsylvania, met with Raymond Police Chief Chuck Spoor, then went to the home.
Matlock said the arrest was “peaceful.”
“She said, ‘Yes, I know I am being looked for,’” Matlock said. She told them her children were in school. Matlock and Bergstrom contacted Child Protective Services workers, who went with them to the schools. The children are now in protective custody. Guy Markus told Pennsylvania news outlets he hopes to be reunited with Daniel in a few days.
Matlock said they didn’t interview Cabrera-Gutierrez, since it isn’t their case, but she did offer a brief explanation for fleeing.
“She just explained that she was in an abusive relationship, and she was here for her children,” Matlock said.
Cabrera-Gutierrez was booked into the Pacific County Jail. She will most likely be extradited to Pennsylvania, where Berks County authorities will handle the prosecution.
Daniel’s story received wide media attention in Pennsylvania. He was found one day after a segment about his kidnapping aired on the television show, “The Hunt With John Walsh.” A representative for the Turner Broadcasting Network said Cabrera Gutierrez was the second fugitive to be caught after being featured on the show. It’s not clear what, if any role the show played in helping the FBI find her — a spokeswoman for the regional FBI office was not available on Monday and Tuesday.