Austin

Abducted 4-year-old Pflugerville girl found safe

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — The Travis County Sheriff's Office confirmed that a 4-year-old girl is safe after an Amber Alert was issued for her regionally Wednesday. Her father is now in custody. 

Deputies said Child Protective Services representatives last saw the girl on Sept. 10 at her aunt and uncle's home in Pflugerville. According to an affidavit, she had been placed there but they had not been awarded custody, and her parents had visited her even though they are supposed to have supervised visits until the case is finalized.

Police said on Sept. 11 she was taken against a court order by her father, 40-year-old Eric John Ramirez, prompting the alert. Late on Sept. 11, Child Protective Services contacted the sheriff's office for help removing the girl from her uncle's home. The uncle initially told them he would let them take her, but later refused to open up, according to an affidavit. CPS and deputies were unable to find her that night. Beginning Wednesday morning the agency said it became very involved in the investigation.

Deputies said they issued a regional Amber alert instead of a state Amber alert because they feel the case did not meet the criteria

Deputies said U.S. Marshals and Texas Rangers found Ramirez and his daughter at the family's home in Liberty Hill. They went there after receiving many tips from the public, according to deputies. KXAN's Will DuPree went to that address earlier in the day, but no one answered the door when he knocked. 

"We know that the father saw the alerts and became concerned because he started making phone calls," Capt. Craig Smith with the Travis County Sheriff's Office said Thursday during a news conference. "We were receiving lots and lots of tips through our social media [and] through the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force. The tips were coming in from all over and so without a doubt, it was the Amber Alert that pushed the tips to us." 

Deputies said Ramirez was arrested on several warrants from Travis County as well as interfering with child custody. They said they're now working with the district attorney's office to possibly bring additional charges of kidnapping and violation of a protective order. 

Around the time Ramirez was taken into custody Thursday afternoon, he was supposed to appear in a Williamson County courtroom with his wife for a custody hearing involving their daughter.

The Department of Family and Protective Services confirmed the girl was removed from the family's home on Aug. 8. Court documents filed that day by a Child Protective Services investigator stated that there had been an investigation into ongoing domestic violence between the parents. 

Judge Brandy Hallford ruled Thursday that the girl will remain in the custody of the Department of Family and Protective Services.

Deputies said the girl's mother, Kimberly Ramirez, may also face charges of interfering with child custody, though it is an ongoing investigation. 


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