Mafe Cruz-Berula busted for child sex assault and more after four young girls go missing
Big photos below.
The scenario instantly recalled Jessica Ridgeway's disappearance, except multiplied: In Greeley, four girls between the ages of five and twelve vanished, prompting a desperate search. In this case, fortunately, the four girls were found and returned to their homes -- but not before one of them allegedly suffered a sexual assault. Details about the arrests of Mafe Cruz-Berula and Uriel Garcia, plus photos and videos, are on view below.
At about 6:30 p.m. on Sunday evening, according to the Greeley Police Department, the girls -- ages five, six, ten and twelve -- were reported missing. The older twosome were babysitting the younger pair in the apartment building where all of them live (it's located on the 1900 block of 2nd Street) when they left the home of the ten year old, bound for the twelve year old's place.
The apartment complex where the four girls live.
Problem is, they never arrived at their intended destination
Cops subsequently spoke with witnesses who recalled seeing the girls walking together, but without adult supervision, around that time -- but where they'd headed, no one knew.
Then, a break: A call placed to the one of the older girl's cell phone reached a younger one. The child who picked up was told to return home with her friends, since the police were looking for them. However, the four didn't reappear, and subsequent calls to the phone went unanswered.
So, according to 7News, the GPD traced the phone to an apartment occupied by Garcia, eighteen, and Cruz-Berula, twenty.
Turns out Garcia was known to one of the older children; his girlfriend was a family friend of hers. Police believe he and Cruz-Berula met up with the quartet and convinced them to head to Garcia's place.
Police at the building to which the children were taken.
When officers arrived at the apartment, they heard people inside, but no one responded to their knocking. So they busted in to find out that one of the men had fled through a window -- they caught him on the roof -- while his pal was in a bedroom. As for the girls, the five year old was sleeping in the living room, while the other three were hiding in the bathroom.
Not only was evidence of alcohol found at the scene, but during interviews, investigators say they learned of what's described as "sexual activity" between Cruz-Berula and one of the older girls.
The charges? Cruz-Berula was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault on a child, sexual assault on a child with a pattern of abuse and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, while Garcia faces a contributing to the delinquency of a minor beef.
The results can't exactly be described as a happy ending. But at least the girls are safe -- and the men who allegedly took advantage of them are nowhere near them anymore.
Look below to see mug shots for Cruz Berula and Garcia, followed by a 7News report.
More from our News archive: "Jessica Ridgeway predator search: Could killer have attended her memorial service?"
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