Questions concerning some odd circumstances surrounding the kidnapping of 14-year-old Ayvani Hope Perez continue to arise as more and more details have been revealed in the investigation. In fact, as Good Morning America reported (via Yahoo News) Sept. 19, the mother of the teen, Maria Corral, has been found to be linked to one of the two men arrested at the site where the girl was found Wednesday.
Authorities say that Maria Corral was arrested alongside Juan Alberto Contreras-Rodriguez, who was arrested in Conyers, Ga., Wednesday and is being held on immigration related charges, back in 2010 in a marijuana trafficking investigation. Both Corral and Contreras-Rodriguez were both later released, the charges dropped.
But the connection adds a bit of mystery to the kidnapping of Ayvani Perez and establishes a connection between the family of Perez and at least one of those involved in the kidnapping incident. The alleged kidnappers themselves are still at large and being sought by authorities. A composite sketch of two African-American men who supposedly broke into the Ellenwood, Ga., home of Maria Corral in search of valuables and abducted the teen when their robbery plans were thwarted, has been circulated and the FBI has said that both are still wanted in connection to the abduction.
FBI Special Agent Rick Maxwell stated Wednesday during a press conference that the two men arrested in Conyers were not the two men in the sketches.
Details given by several official at the press conference were vague. Clayton County Police Chief Gregory Porter said that Ayvani Hope Perez had been found safe and alive, was being evaluated at a hospital, and was reunited with her family. The FBI gave the names of the two suspects arrested in Conyers -- the aforementioned Contreras-Rodriguez, a 40-year-old Mexican national, and 29-year-old Wildrego Jackson. (According to Good Morning America, the two have yet to be charged in connection to the Perez kidnapping.)
But there could be more...
"There are several other subjects, suspects that we are still investigating," Maxwell said Tuesday.
Brad Garrett, former FBI agent and consultant to ABC News, told the morning news show, "So this case has these two odd things going on inside it -- a relationship between the mother and one of the abductors and is this even a logical house to break into."
Friends of the family have expressed puzzlement over the targeting of the Corral household, noting that the family was not known to have money. In fact, they had just moved to Ellenwood, a small town about 10 miles southeast of Atlanta, a month prior to the home invasion.
Police said that two armed men pried their way through the back door of the house early Tuesday morning. Corral is said to have hidden with her children, both teens, in a closet. However, their hiding place was discovered and when the robbers demanded jewelry and money, they were told there was none to be had. They then fatally shot the family dog and took Ayvani Perez with them as they fled.
Suky Guerero, an aunt to the teen, reportedly said that the family was trying to raise ransom money. At the same time, authorities were denying a ransom was being sought. Reports regarding whether or not a ransom was ever demanded vary and authorities remain vague on the subject.
But the odd circumstances have authorities -- and the media -- asking questions. Why the Corral house? What significance does the former connection between Contreras-Rodriguez and Corral hold for the investigation? Was there even a real kidnapping as opposed to a staged incident for other purposes? And just how many people are involved?
The Ayvani Hope Perez kidnapping is an active and ongoing investigation. Authorities are still asking for the public's help. Anyone with information regarding the teen's abduction or the whereabouts of any of the suspects are urged to call a special tips hotline at 770-477-3513 or Clayton County police at 678-610-4781.