Court Documents Reveal How Boston Detectives Found Olivia Ambrose

Olivia Ambrose was found standing next to her alleged kidnapper "crying with a horrified look on her face," according to court documents

What to Know

  • Court documents are shedding light on how investigators found 23-year-old Olivia Ambrose, who vanished after leaving a Boston bar.
  • The suspect, 38-year-old Victor Pena, has been ordered to undergo a full mental health evaluation for 20 days ahead of his next court date.
  • Detectives used her iPhone's location, in addition to surveillance images, to find Ambrose in a Charlestown Housing Project apartment.

Investigators used cell phone location data and surveillance footage from various locations to track down a Boston woman who disappeared from a bar Saturday night and the man suspected of kidnapping her, according to court documents.

Authorities found Olivia Ambrose alive Tuesday in the apartment of Victor Pena, where she allegedly was being held against her will. Pena, 38, was arrested and charged with kidnapping.

At a Wednesday hearing in Charlestown District Court a judge ordered Pena to undergo a full 20-day mental health evaluation at Bridgewater State Hospital. He is being held without bail.

Joseph Perullo, an attorney for Pena, said after Wednesday's hearing that it's too early to comment on the specifics of the case, but Perullo said he's happy that Ambrose is back home with her family, the Associated Press reported.

Court documents released Wednesday shed light on how investigators traced Ambrose's steps after she vanished, using a digital trail left by her iPhone along with surveillance images to make their way to Pena's Walford Way apartment in the Charlestown Housing Project.

That's where police found Ambrose, standing next to her alleged kidnapper and "crying with a horrified look on her face," court documents said.

According to notes included in the document release, police obtained various surveillance videos from Saturday night, including footage that appeared to show Pena and another man, who was not named and has since been cleared by police, approach an apparently inebriated Ambrose on the street.

Notes describe video that showed Ambrose leaving Hennessy's bar on Union Street near Fanueil Hall at 11:08 p.m. on Saturday. She was caught on camera again at 11:37 p.m. on Union and North streets near White Bull Tavern, according to documents. Notes said she appeared intoxicated in the video and had trouble walking.

A minute later, documents said, another surveillance camera caught Ambrose near North and Congress streets, where she apparently encountered Pena. The footage allegedly showed Pena and the other man watch Ambrose as she walked unsteadily across the street and then follow her on Congress toward State Street. Footage also allegedly showed the men approach Ambrose as she crossed the street.

Then, just after midnight, MBTA surveillance cameras caught Pena "with his arm wrapped around" Ambrose, "guiding her as she walked" with him, according to documents.

Minutes later, her phone pinged her location on Main Street in Charlestown.

Around 12:06 a.m., the pair was seen on camera and by an eyewitness walking by the Whole Foods on Austin Street, with Pena seen "holding onto" Ambrose, "guiding her as she is having difficulty walking," documents said.

The final surveillance footage that caught Pena and Ambrose on camera came from a home security system on Green Street and showed them walking toward Bunker Hill Street. Pena was still holding onto Ambrose, court documents said.

The next day Ambrose's sister used the Find My iPhone app to approximate her location, which placed her at Walford Way and Corey Street, the police report said.

On Tuesday, a task force was convened and worked on canvassing the housing project where her iPhone sent its last ping.

Detectives on the ground spoke with residents and showed them surveillance photos of the suspect. The residents said the person in the photo looked like the person who lived in Apt. 625 — Pena's apartment — and a detective then went to Boston Housing Authority management to get information about the apartment's tenant.

Meanwhile, other detectives got a booking photo for a previous charge against Pena and ran CharlieCard — the payment method used for public transit in Massachusetts — information for Walford Way, eventually finding a person who looked similar to the suspect in the surveillance photos.

As they were ascertaining that Pena was the suspect in the surveillance photos, detectives learned that Ambrose's phone had been turned on and "she was sending messages to her mother," according to documents, and that the phone's location pinpointed it to the apartment building at Walford Way and Corey Street.

When detectives arrived at Pena's door, they found that it had been outfitted with a private lock, despite housing authority's rules against doing so, court documents said. Police requested a Boston Housing Authority maintenance worker to come to the apartment to remove the lock.

Detectives knocked on Pena's door "numerous times" for about 20 minutes as they waited for the maintenance worker, who arrived with keys and a drill to remove the lock.

"Once the top lock was dismantled ... detectives heard the [lower] locks opening from inside," the police report read.

The detectives immediately saw Ambrose in the apartment, and as they tried to handcuff Pena, the suspect allegedly started to resist arrest.

After she was evaluated at Massachusetts General Hospital, Ambrose told investigators that Pena had taken her phone and "refused to let her leave the apartment for the entire time she was held there."

Hours before they found Ambrose, Boston police had released a timeline and a photo of a person of interest, whom investigators say is Pena.

Pena's next court date is Feb. 11.

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