A seven-hour standoff ended Thursday with the arrest of the father of a girl who vanished from her home in the middle of the night a day earlier and mysteriously resurfaced hours later across town.
Ray Salvador Coriell, 29, was arrested on a warrant for kidnapping with the act of rape; kidnapping with the intent to rape; intercourse with a child under 10 years old; and attempted murder, according to Kern County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Ray Pruitt.
Coriell’s bail has been set at $1 million.
On Thursday afternoon, sheriff’s deputies were summoned to the central Bakersfield home from which the 8-year-old girl had disappeared a day earlier because Coriell was inside and believed to be despondent and armed, officials said. He had sent a text message to the child’s stepmother that said he was contemplating hurting himself, said Kern County Sheriff’s Cmdr. Dan Leper.
That prompted law enforcement to surround the home at the corner of Loch Lomond Drive and Cleveland Way. Crisis negotiators tried for hours to coax Coriell out as hoards of deputies outside the residence stood by. A warrant for Coriell’s arrest was obtained a little after 6 p.m. He voluntarily emerged from the home about 7 p.m.
Authorities said a secondary crime scene is at a field east of Morning Drive, close to where the girl was found.
The daughter had been reported missing early Wednesday morning, but her recovery later that day did not allay the fears of a community stunned and shaken by her disappearance.
Law enforcement initially wouldn’t say publicly how the girl vanished or where she was during the period when she was missing, leading to widespread fear that a stranger had abducted her.
Then midday Thursday — her 8th birthday — her neighborhood was rocked by yet another shock.
SWAT team members, Sheriff Donny Youngblood and other law enforcement officers descended on the home to deal with the distraught father, and part of the street was evacuated.
Other people were in the home when deputies arrived, and they were evacuated, too. They told authorities that weapons were in the house.
“A concern at this point is for his safety,” sheriff’s spokesman Pruitt said at the time. Sheriff’s officials said then that the father was not a suspect in the girl’s disappearance, but later that evening they accused him of kidnapping and raping his own daughter.
The Californian identified the girl in early reports of her disappearance when law enforcement sought the public’s help in finding her. She is no longer being named because of the assault allegations.
The girl and her stepmother were at Kern Medical Center, where the child was taken after she was found Wednesday, and are under guard for their own protection, Pruitt said. A “hold” has been placed on the girl, meaning if she were ready to leave the hospital, deputies would be involved in deciding where she would go next.
The child’s stepmother received the text message at 12:11 p.m., she told deputies.
A crisis negotiation team and mental health officials tried to reach the father and SWAT teams arrived at about 4 p.m.
After the father’s arrest, neighbors expressed surprise and disgust.
Stella Gonzales, who lives behind the family’s high-walled backyard, said she didn’t think someone could have made it into the house without the dogs creating a racket.
Gonzales’ brother-in-law, Dickie Holman, said that when Coriell approached him to say Coriell’s daughter was missing, “he didn’t shed no tears,” and he didn’t seem distraught.
“I lost my son for 15 minutes and my neighbor told me I looked like a madwoman,” said Flora Hull, another neighborhood resident.
Her husband, Terry Hull, said he often saw the girl’s stepmother picking her up from school when Hull picked up his own son. But, he said, “we didn’t see him very often.”
On Wednesday, relatives told authorities they discovered the girl missing at about 3:45 a.m.
She was found hours later, nine miles away across town, and authorities wouldn’t say exactly what happened or how she got there.
Adrian and Candice Sandoval, who live next door to the family, said the girl’s paternal grandmother knocked on their door shortly before 4 a.m. Wednesday asking if they had seen her.
“She was hysterical,” Adrian Sandoval said.
He told the grandmother he hadn’t seen the little girl and immediately woke up his wife and checked on their own three children.
“My oldest daughter is in a back bedroom, so I was terrified,” Candice Sandoval said.
After relatives called 911, sheriff’s deputies swarmed the neighborhood, conducting a search on foot and by air near the home.
The child turned up at 10:20 a.m. Wednesday in the 9400 block of Eucalyptus Drive, east of Mount Vernon Avenue and south of Niles Street. The girl’s maternal grandfather said Thursday that he and his wife were deeply traumatized by the ordeal.
Authorities asked them not to discuss details of the case, but the grandfather said he wondered how anyone could have gotten inside the house to take the child, noting that the family has a fence and two large dogs that would make intrusion difficult.
He described his granddaughter as outgoing, smart and serious. “She’s loving, a really good girl,” he said. “She’s never run away before, and never had a problem with telling stories, no matter how much trouble she’s in.”
The grandfather hadn’t been able to see his granddaughter as of Thursday morning, he added.
He said he and his wife raised the girl until she moved in with her father at the age of 4. There is no ugly custody battle between the child’s parents, he said.
Mario Martinez, who said he found the child Wednesday, said she had injuries including a black eye that was nearly swollen shut and a bruised elbow.
Sheriff’s deputies have not confirmed that Martinez found the girl, but they did say Thursday night that the girl “displayed signs of trauma.”
Martinez said Thursday that he was raking his employer’s lawn when the girl wandered into the driveway Wednesday morning. He said she was thirsty, so he emptied his bottle of Brisk iced tea and filled it with water for her. She drank most of the bottle.
The child said she didn’t know where her mom was, and she couldn’t remember how she got from her home in central Bakersfield to the neighborhood of Martinez’s employer in east Bakersfield, a distance of about nine miles.
“She looked nervous, but also really tired,” Martinez said.
The girl was dressed in a pink shirt and pink pajama pants, he said. She was very dirty, especially on her face and hands.
Martinez’s employer, veterinarian Dr. Lynn Reno, said he was at work at the time but Martinez filled him in on what had happened. He added that Martinez didn’t have a cell phone on him and asked a neighbor to call police.
Nick Miranda lives on the same block as the surrounded house. He said deputies came to his door Thursday and told him to leave. He decided to take his daughter and his fiancee and leave in their SUV.
“I’m getting my kid out of here,” Miranda said. “I’m not sticking around to find out what happens.”
Roman Aragon lives on Castro Lane, a block over from Loch Lomond. He said his 11-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son were scared to sleep alone Wednesday night. They’re afraid.
The family ended up sleeping in the living room together. Aragon said his son propped a chair against the front door, and also placed a jar of marbles in front of it so the family would hear the noise if someone tried to get in.
“It’s scary,” Aragon said.