Editor note: Although our team uncovered pictures on social media tying the child to the kidnappers, we’ve chosen to not reveal those pictures in an effort to protect the child.
TALLAHASSEE, FL- According to WXTL Tallahassee, the two suspects who were arrested for the kidnapping of 3-year-old Madeline Mejia have had their identities released by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
According to court documents, 19-year-old Kevin Olmeda-Velis and 18-year-old Tania Fortin-Duarte were arrested charges related to the kidnapping of the child and are currently being held at the Leon County Jail.
The incident started out on Monday, February 10th in Apopka, Florida, when the victim’s father was with his 3-year-old daughter outside of his home at around 6:00 a.m.
The father realized that he’d forgotten to grab his keys from the house, and ran inside to get them while his daughter stayed on the front lawn.
Moments later he heard his daughter screaming and, when he ran outside, he saw a man snatching his daughter and placing her into a black Honda with a temporary Texas license plate.
According to Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Kim Montes, the father chased down the car from his Apopka home until he lost sight of the suspect’s car on Interstate 75 North. The victim’s father didn’t have a cellphone at the time when he began to immediately chase down the suspect, but returned home after losing sight to call the police.
At around 9:30 a.m., an AMBER alert was issued for the abducted child. Just 90 minutes after the FDLE issued the alert, the young girl was located by authorities.
Trooper Jessie Sunday from the Florida Highway Patrol was actively looking for a black Honda while the alert was active, and had spotted the suspect’s vehicle on the I-10 West near mile marker 208 in Leon County.
When Trooper Sunday, along with other troopers present, conducted the traffic stop – they had found Madeline Mejia unharmed.
The moment our agents recovered Madeline Mejia this morning!
— FDLE (@fdlepio) February 10, 2020
Lester Mejia, the girls father, was relieved when he was reunited with his daughter:
“It was anguish not knowing what was happening to my daughter. I’m happy for my baby coming back.”
While some have been critical of the father briefly leaving his young daughter’s side that morning, Police Chief Michael McKinley noted that not everyone is thinking the worst can happen at any second:
“Obviously he didn’t think this was the morning someone was going to grab Madeline, We don’t all think about that.”
Olmeda-Velis and Fortin-Duarte were immediately arrested and transported to the Leon County Detention Facility on Monday. Police have yet to release a suspected motive in the crime, but believe that the two suspects were headed toward Texas with the young girl.
They are both being held without bond and are scheduled to have their first appearance on Tuesday, February 11th.
After reviewing Facebook, we’d uncovered the profiles of both Olmeda-Velis and Fortin-Duarte. According to their respective profiles, Olmeda-Velis was born in El Salvador and currently resides in Houston, Texas.
A review of his friends list revealed that he’s connected on Facebook with Fortin-Duarte.
Fortin-Duarte’s Facebook profile showcased that she currently lives in Orlando, Florida – not far from where the abduction took place. It was also shown that the female suspect is originally from Roatán, Islas De La Bahia, Honduras.
While reviewing both the social media accounts for the suspects in custody, while these were posts that were “public”, there wasn’t much present that could be linked to a motive either.
The only connection was that Olmeda-Velis was based in Texas, at some point travelled to Florida and linked up with Fortin-Duarte, and then the kidnapping allegedly happened.
Yet, when looking into the victim’s father’s Facebook – there was an interesting revelation. It looks like Lester Mejia was quite familiar Fortin-Duarte. In fact, just months prior to the kidnapping, it looks like they might have been dating.
Pictures of them can be seen at the beaches of Florida, where Lester is hugging Fortin-Duarte – while she has her hands placed on the Madeline Mejia.
So is this all just a coincidence, or was there trouble in paradise sometime down the road?
It’s hard to tell, but both Lester Mejia and Fortin-Duarte are still connected on Facebook as of this time.