Abducted 1-Year-Old Found Safe After Ex-Cop Dad Allegedly Killed 2 Women

A 1-year-old Washington toddler was found safe in Oregon on Tuesday after authorities alleged he was kidnapped by his father, a former police officer who took his own life in a police chase following the fatal shooting of his ex-wife and the discovery of a deceased teenage girl in his home, West Richland officials announced on Wednesday.

Elias Huizar, 39, was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound following an intense police chase near Eugene, Oregon, according to a press release by West Richland police on Tuesday. His 1-year-old son, Roman Santos, was with him during the chase, but was safely taken into custody.

The search for Roman began on Monday, after Huizar allegedly gunned down his ex-wife, 31-year-old Amber Marie Rodriguez, outside William Wiley Elementary before fleeing the scene with the child, West Richland Police Chief Thomas Grego said Tuesday at a press conference.

Huizar came onto school grounds dressed in black clothes and shot his ex-wife several times in front of one of the two children they had together, according to a probable cause document cited by local NBC affiliate KNDU.

Authorities searched Huizar’shome a block away from the shooting, where they found the body of Roman’s mother, 17-year-old Angelica Santos.

On Wednesday, Grego referred to the teenager as Huizar’s “girlfriend.” The police chief also told reporters that Santos’ death is still under investigation.

Benton County prosecutor Eric Eisinger said at the press conference that it was unclear if Santos was living with Huizar at the time of her death, adding that the motives behind both killings are unclear.

Angelica Santos and Amber Marie Rodriguez via GoFundMe / Facebook
Angelica Santos and Amber Marie Rodriguez via GoFundMe / Facebook GoFundMe / Facebook

According to court documents cited by local FOX affiliate KZJO, Huizar met Santos while he was a school resource officer at her middle school and she was 11 years old.

Santos’ mother, Tiffany Penaloza, identified the 17-year-old in the court filings as her daughter, adding that she believed Huizar “brainwashed” her, NBC News reports.

“He had her so brainwashed into believing so much stuff that wasn’t real,” Penaloza told the outlet. “He had her believing that they were going to be the perfect family.”

According to NBC News, Santos and Huizar’s sexual relationship began when she was a freshman in high school. Santos became pregnant when she was 15, and she gave birth to their child when she was 16, according to the KZJO.

Huizar was arrested by a SWAT team in February after Santos allegedly caught him sexually assaulting her 16-year-old friend while they were drinking alcohol, according to the outlet.

According to reports by Tri-City Herald, Huizar posted bail following his arrest and was released from jail.

Santos’ mother told NBC News that Huizar became controlling in the relationship after his arrest in February. Two days before her daughter’s death, he became angry when the teen refused to let him eavesdrop on a conversation she was having with her grandmother, she said.

Huizar was an officer for the Yakima Police Department between 2014 and 2022, Tri-City Herald reported. The department stated in a Tuesday press release that Huizar left in 2021 after “receiving discipline.”

In a statement on Tuesday, the Richland School District where Rodriguez worked said Huizar worked there in February 2022 as a substitute teacher after receiving a reference from Franklin Middle School, where he was a resource officer.

According to the statement Huizar passed all background checks at the time and worked as a substitute teacher until February of this year, when the district was notified of his arrest and allegations.

“We are extremely disheartened that information about Mr. Huizar’s past was not disclosed to us through the various processes we have in place to vet RSD candidates for employment,” the statement read. “It is the expectation for individuals who apply for employment with RSD to be forthcoming and truthful in their applications.”

Court filings cited by NBC revealed Rodriguez filed for divorce in 2020 and was recently granted a protection order from Huizar.

Tara Symons, who was appointed as Rodriguez and Huizar’s guardian ad litem to handle custody issues when the couple divorced, told NBC News that Rodriguez had “safety concerns” and was “terrified” throughout the divorce.

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