It was a normal Monday morning in July 2017 when Colin Blevin arrived at his workplace as usual at about 7:00 a.m. What wasn’t usual that summer morning in San José, California, was the fact that a dirty-looking man was blocking the entrance to the construction firm in his car. According to Blevin, there was something not quite right about the man. He appeared to be muttering to himself and behaving suspiciously. In fact, to Blevin’s eyes, the stranger “appeared to be under the influence of drugs.”
The 44-year-old had just asked the man to move his vehicle – a 1992 white Honda Accord – when Blevin spotted something even more unusual. The construction worker spoke to People magazine about the incident on July 20, 2017. He said, “The back door [of the car] was cracked open and I saw a baby… Right away I thought, ‘that makes no sense.’”
“The baby was well taken care of, and this guy was dirty, skinny and jittery, Blevin continued. “I thought, ‘There is no way the baby belongs to this man.’” Indeed, there was every reason to suspect that something was up. Blevin did not know it at the time, but the poor infant had been abducted just a few hours earlier.
Blevin lives in the city of Santa Clara, CA, and is employed by Ciarra Construction. It is a San José company that specializes in building and remodeling commercial and residential properties. One reason why the infant may have caught Blevin’s attention that morning is that he himself is the father of a 19-month-old daughter.
Scarily, Blevin had originally considered calling in sick that Monday morning. “My hip was hurting real bad,” he explained to People magazine, but added, “I needed to get work done.” So off to work he went, regardless of the pain in his upper leg. It was just as well – if Blevin had decided to stay at home on July 17, 2017, there could have been a tragedy.
One hour before Blevin had arrived at work, police in Monterey County had asked California Highway Patrol to issue an amber alert – the emergency police protocol for a child abduction. Officers were looking for a Honda Accord with a California license plate. There was no way of the construction worker knowing it, but it was the exact same vehicle parked outside Blevin’s workplace.
At approximately 5:00 a.m. the car had been stolen some 90 miles south of San José from a man in the Monterey County city of Soledad. The early-riser had left the vehicle unattended for a moment with the engine running, as he went inside his house to collect his lunch. In an appalling lapse of judgment, the man also left something else unattended in the backseat of the Accord – his eight-month old son.
Sadly, the Soledad man’s morning was about to be plunged into total crisis. When he re-emerged from his house, he found to his absolute horror that the car had vanished. In fact, a thief was at that moment driving the man’s Accord with his baby in the back. The carjacker sped north towards San José, but we don’t know if the man behind the wheel was at that time aware of the contents of the seat behind him. He was certainly aware of the baby’s presence by the time he had reached the city and was asked to move “his” car by Blevin.
The disheveled car thief complied with the request. He moved the car and then, to Blevin’s amazement, got out and immediately started trying to break into another vehicle. At that moment, a homeless woman called Mamas Ramirez approached Blevin. She was currently living in an RV which was parked up temporarily next door to Ciarra Construction. Ramirez explained to Blevin that the drug-addled man with the baby had knocked on her door earlier that morning. And now the woman was desperate for Blevin’s help.
“The lady tells me quietly, ‘Help me save this baby,’” Blevin told People magazine. “She said, ‘You have to save this baby. The guy tried to give it to me.’ I looked into the car and there is this beautiful chunky baby looking at me. The baby [was] calm, clean, with a bottle on his chest. I thought, ‘What is going on here?’”
According to an account that Ramirez gave to CBS-owned local TV channel KPIX 5, the strange man had told her, “Take this baby. I grabbed this car and there’s a baby in it. I don’t know what to do with babies.” After hearing that, Ramirez knew that she could not let the carjacker leave with the infant, and enlisted Blevin’s assistance.
Consequently, the construction worker decided to approach the man and try and get some answers. “I asked him, ‘Is this your baby?’” Blevin told KPIX 5. “He said, ‘No, the person who gave me this car left the baby in there.’ He wasn’t concerned in the slightest. He was spun out or something.”
Of course, Blevin had no choice but to take the baby away from the drug-damaged individual. “I [took] the baby and put him on my trailer,” he later told Californian newspaper The Mercury News. “I said, ‘I’m calling 911.’ The guy didn’t really seem to care. I think he realized he messed up. He was in for a stolen car, and he stole a baby. He stole a child.”
In fact, the man got back in the Honda and made a speedy escape. Nevertheless, the stolen Accord was later pulled over by a police patrol in the city of Salinas at 12:30 p.m. The fugitive was arrested and brought into custody. He turned out to be a 43-year-old homeless man called Raymond Randy “Turtle” Gutierrez. But Ramirez and the other homeless people in San José had already recognized him for what he was – bad news.
“The homeless people knew who he was,” Damon Wasson, Soledad’s Deputy Police Chief, told People magazine. “They knew him and didn’t like him and didn’t want him around. When they saw him with a baby, it got their radar up and their only concern was getting the baby away from him.”
After a medical check, the eight-month-old infant was returned to his grateful family. “[The] baby is perfectly safe and sound,” Juan Espinoza, a sergeant at Soledad Police Department told TV’s NBC Bay Area News. “[It’s the] best possible result that we could have hope for.” Indeed, the alternatives don’t bear thinking about.
“Everyone is saying what could have happened, and that is what scared me,” Blevin admitted to People magazine. “I have been very emotional since it happened. When the cop said, ‘This is the amber-alert baby,’ I thought, ‘Are you kidding me?’ I was able to help a little kid and his family and that is a life highlight right there.”
Unbelievably, however, it is not the first time that a car thief has inadvertently kidnapped a young child in Soledad of late. In 2016, there was a disturbingly similar case when a two-year-old boy was left in a vehicle alone. Once again, the vehicle was parked just outside the owner’s house with the engine running and the kid in the back seat. When his father came outside after what at the time must have seemed a vital errand, the car was gone.
After another amber alert, the two-year-old toddler was found several hours later. He was still in the car which had been abandoned at an isolated ranch in Monterey County. The boy was discovered in the nick of time; it was a scorchingly hot day and he was locked inside the vehicle with the windows firmly closed. Charges of attempted murder were eventually brought against the suspected perpetrator, Carmen Rogelio Maldonado.
“Twice this happens in one city,” deputy chief Wasson told local Californian TV channel KSBW. “That’s twice too many. The few seconds you save by leaving your car running is not worth going through something like this. Your car being stolen, your baby being kidnapped – this does not have to happen.”