Little Yerelyn Guzmán Calvo, 6, has been missing in Santo Domingo de Heredia since Friday. Police, investigators and volunteers continue the search, but the case more and more looks like a crime.
The girl vanished going to a small food store less than 200 feet from her home. Being snatched by child stealers could be one possibility. There have been previous cases in the Central Valley. In fact, the current case resembles the disappearance of Jessica Valverde Pineda, 4, who lived in Los Guidos de Desamparados. She vanished in February 2002 while going to a small food store a short distance from her home. She has not been seen since.
The current case is clouded by allegations of sexual abuse. The Poder Judicial issued a detailed bulletin Monday saying that a male relative had been detained on a sexual abuse allegation.
Meanwhile, police at the borders have been asked to keep a special watch for the girl.
This is the second time since Saturday that the girl’s relative with the last name of Guzmán has been detained. He first was held Saturday as a suspect in child kidnapping. He was interviewed by judicial agents, and prosecutors in Heredia eventually decided that they did not have enough evidence to press the case. Still, the man’s clothes were taken for analysis.
The Poder Judicial revealed Monday that the girl figured in a sexual abuse case in March when workers at a clinic reported her to police. An aunt had brought the child for medical treatment, said the Poder Judicial.
The girl denied any such involvement at that time, and a police medical exam came up negative, the Poder Judicial said, adding that the prosecutor asked a judge to dismiss the case.
Saturday afternoon the allegation of sexual abuse came up again when judicial agents interviewed the girl’s two brothers. They said that she had been abused by Guzmán, who was detained promptly. He is a relative of the girl’s father.
Judicial agents handle a steady flow of missing individuals. Sometimes the children are pawns in parental custody battles. Sometimes they have been taken to an adjacent country for innocent reasons.
Then there are the few who never turn up.
A short time after Jessica Valverde Pineda vanished, 4-year-old Osvaldo Faobricio Madrigal Bravo vanished from his home in Higuito de San Miguel de Desamparados. The case warranted special attention because his father was an anti-drug agent with the Judicial Investigating Organization.
His body showed up at the Brazil hydroelectric dam west of Santa Ana. And it bore marks that suggested the boy had been beaten. The head of the judicial police at the time said that an organization exists in Costa Rica that robs and transports children, an international child-stealing ring. Nothing has been heard about such a ring since.