What to Know
- Wednesday's abduction of an 11-year-old girl prompted an Amber Alert.
- Springfield resident Miguel Rodriguez was arrested on the Massachusetts Turnpike in connection with the kidnapping.
- According to Rodriguez's family, he suffers from a mental illness, something his mother had noted in a 2018 restraining order application.
The man accused of kidnapping an 11-year-old girl in Springfield, Massachusetts, prompting an Amber Alert and a frantic search for the girl, was charged Thursday in court, where documents revealed disturbing past allegations against him.
Relatives of Miguel Rodriguez, 24, of Springfield, had filed for restraining orders against him in the summer of 2018, with one relative alleging in her application that he had recently caused her to engage in a sex act under threat and that, when she was younger, he'd touched her inappropriately.
In another document, Rodriguez's mother said it was "impossible" to live with him in the house due to "that mental problem of being aggressive toward me and his brothers" that left them in fear of him. She wrote that she had to lock away the knives in the house and that his brothers locked their rooms at night.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
Both restraining orders were granted but the former expired after the relative failed to appear in court, while the mother asked a judge to withdraw it several months after she applied because Rodriguez "changed the way he treats me."
Rodriguez was held without bail Thursday on charges of kidnapping, assault with dangerous weapon, witness intimidation in Wednesday's hourslong alleged abduction of the 11-year-old girl.
The girl had just gotten off a school bus shortly before 1:30 p.m. and was walking on Amherst Street toward her home when she was forced into an unknown car.
"I heard the girl screaming and [a man] throwing her in the back, and I did get a good look at the car," neighbor Julius Kenney said.
Kenney said he sprang into action when he heard the child yelling for help and tried to get the vehicle’s license plate number.
“My wife saw most of it,” the neighbor said. “When she started screaming and hollering, that’s when I got involved. I was in the front room and she was screaming I thought somebody was breaking in.”
State police released an image of a blue Honda they believed was involved in the kidnapping and an Amber Alert revealed a license plate number. Around 7:15 p.m., authorities began to receive multiple tips from drivers on the Massachusetts Turnpike that they spotted the suspect vehicle near Auburn and Sturbridge.
The suspect vehicle was spotted in a work zone and state police troopers were able to arrest Rodriguez. They confirmed the child was in the backseat of the car at the time of the arrest.
The girl was missing for more than six hours before her rescue, and her alleged abductor, Rodriguez, was arrested.
The girl's family issued a statement Thursday thanking neighbors, family friends, police, media outlets and especially the couple who helped follow the suspect vehicle from Springfield to Chicopee, which ultimately helped police apprehend Rodriguez on the Mass. Pike.
"The outpouring of love and support, near and far, is overwhelming," the statement said. "We are eternally grateful."
A not guilty plea was entered on Rodriguez's behalf at his arraignment Thursday morning in Springfield District Court. He was ordered held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing on Jan. 22.
“This is very scary and we understand it, but the person is apprehended and we’re going to work very hard to make sure he does not see the light of day for a very long time," Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said.
The judge ordered a 15-day competency hearing due to concerns about Rodriguez's mental well-being despite his lawyer's objections.
Rodriguez's family told Telemundo Nueva Inglaterra that he suffers from schizophrenia and sometimes does not take his medication. They added that they were sorry for the victim’s family.
Initially, investigators said they were searching for two people in connection to the abduction and a woman may have been involved. On Thursday, police clarified and said Rodriguez is the sole suspect in connection to the kidnapping.