A man whose wife went missing in Santa Ana in 2016 was arrested Thursday, April 15 after authorities alleged in a federal complaint that he kidnapped her.
Eddy Reyes, 35, was taken into custody on suspicion of kidnapping Claudia Reyes, who was 21 years old and the mother of his 4-year-old son when she vanished.
Reyes, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection employee, made his first appearance in court on Thursday but did not enter a plea, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
This week, agents searched Reyes’ Covina home at a complex in the 20900 block of East Covina Boulevard and a house in Orange at 835 South Park Vine Street, where investigators believe the missing woman was taken after her disappearance.
Neighbors of the Orange home said on Thursday that they saw FBI agents with bolt cutters, a circular saw and jackhammer and could hear them being used as investigators searched the home and garage.
An affidavit, filed Monday, suggests that Claudia Reyes was killed either the night she disappeared or the following morning, but no person had been charged in connection with her alleged death.
On May 6, 2016, coworkers of Claudia at an El Pollo Loco restaurant in Garden Grove heard her arguing over the phone with Reyes and heard him apologizing. She told a coworker that Reyes had told her he was going to take her dancing after she got off work. She didn’t want to go dancing because they were preparing to move to a new apartment in Anaheim from their Santa Ana one on Bush Street, according to the complaint.
That night, Reyes picked her up at the restaurant in a rented SUV.
“Since that time no one, including Claudia’s child, parents, coworkers, or friends, has heard from her or learned what happened to her,” the affidavit, penned by Santa Ana police Detective Farshid Hashempour, states. Hashempour is also a task force officer working with the FBI.
The federal complaint notes that “the use of a cell phone in furtherance of a kidnapping satisfies the interstate commerce requirement for federal jurisdiction even where the crime occurred in one state.”
After his wife’s alleged disappearance, it took Reyes four days to file a missing person’s report drawing questions from investigators. Santa Ana police handled the missing person’s investigation and Reyes told them his wife had gone “clubbing” with friends he didn’t know. Police appealed to the public by releasing the woman’s photo and information and later an attorney for Reyes said the man’s delay in filing a report was because of bad advice he received.
Reyes had met Claudia and impregnated her in El Salvador when she was 16 years old and he was 25.They married and in 2014, he brought her and their son to the United States.
The complaint describes that Reyes physically and mentally abused Claudia. He’d also threatened her multiple times saying he’d rather kill her than see her with another man. At one point he paid someone to steal her phone because it had evidence that could hurt his career and another time he tried to have someone plant cocaine on her.
In the days that followed, coworkers and family members received text messages from Claudia’s phone that they thought were suspicious and were not written in the way she typically wrote, the affidavit said. One of them was to her mother, claiming she had been “sleeping around” and was leaving for New York in a bus with an American man with blue eyes.
Her mother’s pleas to respond to her went unanswered. A coworker also filed a missing person’s report when Claudia did not report to work and told police she was a victim of domestic violence.
During the missing person investigation, police called Reyes for more information but he would not cooperate and hung up. He was later interviewed at his lawyer’s office where he claimed that after not hearing from his wife, he, his mother, half-brother and son went on a planned camping trip.
But investigators believe that on the night Reyes told his wife he was going to take her dancing, he instead took her to his mother’s house in Orange, where she was killed, the complaint details.
“The only trace of Claudia found since that night was a drop of her blood in the SUV Reyes had rented, and the scent of a dead body in the back seat and rear storage area of the SUV, detected by a cadaver dog.”
Reyes’ mother hated Claudia, the complaint details, and had previously told her that she and Reyes could kill her and take their son.
“To this day, law enforcement has not found Claudia,” the complaint states.
Source: Orange County Register
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