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Police announce 3:30 p.m. press conference in Baby Bryan case

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:30

Police announce 3:30 p.m. press conference in Baby Bryan case


Daily News staff

Saturday, December 9, 2006

The Fort Myers Police Department will release new information about Baby Bryan, who was taken from his mother at knifepoint on Dec. 1 in Estero, today at a 3:30 p.m. press conference

Fort Myers police did not say what the new information is about in a news release about the press conference sent out at about 10:30 a.m.

Several agencies have united to offer a $21,000 reward for the return of one-month-old Bryan, who was kidnapped from his mother, Maria De Fatima Ramos Dos Santos, 23, when the mother and her friend were trying to help an unknown woman find the community of Pine Manor in Fort Myers.

The woman let Ramos Dos Santos' friend out of the car, but pushed baby Bryan's mother back into the car. The woman, who is described as a Hispanic woman 28 to 30-years old with straight black hair, then drove south to Estero, pointed a knife at Bryan and told Ramos Dos Santos to get out of the sports utility vehicle they were in.

Fort Myers Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and several other agencies and community groups have been searching for Bryan since 7:15 p.m. on Dec. 1, when an Amber Alert was issued.

America's Most Wanted, the well-known show that helps bring fugitives to justice, will air a segment about the kidnapping of baby Bryan tonight


http://www.bonitanews.com/news/2006/dec/09/police_announce_3_pm_press_conference_baby_bryan_c/?latest

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Police: Baby Bryan kidnapping motive is smuggling ransom

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:31

Police: Baby Bryan kidnapping motive is smuggling ransom


Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006



Daily News staff

Overwhelming debts and a smuggler group’s scare tactics are likely behind the kidnapping of a month-old Fort Myers infant, police now believe.


Fort Myers Police chief Hilton Daniels held a press conference Saturday afternoon announcing that baby Bryan was kidnapped by a human trafficking organization over payment for smuggling the parents into the United States from Brazil. When the parents could not come up with rest of the money, the baby was taken as a means to force payment.
Bryan Dos Santos Gomes disappeared Dec. 1 when a woman took him from his mother at knifepoint. For most of the time he has been missing, police have described the suspect as a woman who so desperately wanted a child of her own she had planned a kidnapping.

But given new leads in the case, that’s no longer likely, Fort Myers Police Chief Hilton Daniels said at a press conference Saturday afternoon.

Bryan’s parents, both immigrants from Brazil, weren’t keeping up with payments to the smugglers who brought them to this country, Daniels said. He didn’t know the amount of the family’s debt, nor did he know who the smugglers might be, but he said debt was the likely motive in the kidnapping.

The information came from tips from the community, not from Bryan’s parents, who weren’t at the press conference.

Daniels, who described the incident both as a human smuggling and human trafficking case, continued the department’s appeals for more information from anyone who might know more about the kidnapping or the smugglers.

“If you’re illegally in the country, please come forward. Our intent is not to swoop you up and deport you. Our goal is to find this baby,” he said.

AUDIO: Police announce in press conference that smuggling ransom may be motive for Baby Bryan kidnapping
The baby’s father, Jurandir Gomes Costa, 26, said last week that he came to Florida from Brazil nearly two years ago, and that his girlfriend, the baby’s mother, Maria de Fatima Ramos Dos Santos, 23, followed him some months later.

Asked at his home later Saturday afternoon if he thought the baby had been kidnapped because the couple had not paid off their debt to the smugglers, Gomes Costa looked crestfallen but declined to comment.

Police still believe the details of the kidnapping occurred as Ramos Dos Santos described and that the suspect they are looking for still matches the description in the police sketch released several days ago, Daniels said. Police continue searching for the black SUV the suspect was driving, and they continue searching for Bryan.

If the kidnapping was in fact payback for failure to pay human smugglers, this is the first time a child so young has been taken for that reason in the United States, said Anna Rodriguez, founder of the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking. The organization provides services and training to law enforcement agencies about human trafficking and often serves as a link between victims and authorities.


The possibility that smugglers and debt might be involved seemed likely enough that she met with Florida Department of Law Enforcement officials on Friday to suggest just that.

Rodriguez said she doesn’t know if her suggestions helped law enforcement officials ask the right questions to find out about the smuggling connection. But she did say that as of Friday, an officer with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement told her those questions hadn’t been asked yet and that he was unsure if the borders were being checked for anyone trying to leave the country with Bryan.

For immigrants who pay smugglers, fees are high, and broken agreements and threats of various kinds are common for immigrants who rely on smugglers, Rodriguez said. She added she hopes this case will be a wakeup call to the area about the reality and consequences of human trafficking.

According to a 2004 U.S. Justice Department Report, as many as 17,000 people per year are brought to the United States by human traffickers. Some experts estimate that human smuggling and trafficking could be a $9.5 billion yearly industry for criminal organizations that also deal in the sale of illegal drugs, weapons and money laundering.

While police still believe Bryan is safe, Rodriguez said it’s possible the infant is already out of the country.

In her work with the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking she has traveled to countries such as Brazil, Argentina and Guatemala and said there is large black market for babies in those places. Infants can sell for $3,500 and up, she said, and are often put to work at a very young age for the people who buy them.

In a human smuggling operation, people have consented to be transported to a destination, typically in exchange for large sums of money, according to the U.S. Department of State Web site. If the smugglers exploit the immigrants - either for money or other services - after they arrive at their destination, it becomes a case of human trafficking.

It’s a legal distinction that would matter if Bryan’s kidnappers are found and ever face charges.

Smugglers’ fees vary, said Carol Nelson, who also works for the Florida Coalition. Usually, the fee is at least $1,000.

As for how many others in the area might be in debt to the same group of smugglers that kidnapped Bryan, Nelson said it’s hard to say.

“It could be none. It could be hundreds,” she said. “If you were smuggled in by these people and you still have a debt, yeah, you need to be careful.”

Meanwhile, the hunt for Baby Bryan continues. Saturday morning, various area religious groups took to the streets going door-to-door handing out fliers with Bryan’s information and a copy of the composite sketch of the suspect.

While some residents only took the fliers and shut the door, others in the Beacon Manor community shared their concerns since Bryan’s disappearance.

Fort Myers resident Darlene Donovam, 48, said she now reminds her children Austin, 11, and Dana, 8, that babies are not the only people that can be kidnapped.

Staff Writer Elysa M. Batista contributed to this report.

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2006/dec/09/polciebaby_bryan_taken_part_smuggling_ransom/?latest

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Police: Baby Taken After Parents Failed To Pay Human Smugglers

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:32

Police: Baby Taken After Parents Failed To Pay Human Smugglers


POSTED: 8:28 pm EST December 9, 2006

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A missing month-old boy kidnapped at knifepoint was taken as payment because his parents failed to pay human smugglers, police said Saturday.

Bryan Dos Santos Gomes' parents were brought into the United States illegally from Brazil, but failed to pay the smugglers' entire fee, Fort Myers Police Chief Hilton Daniels said.

Investigators believe the alleged kidnapper belongs to the smuggling ring, though they initially thought the boy was likely taken by a woman looking to steal a baby to claim as her own, police said.


Bryan has been missing since Dec. 1 when he and his mother, Maria Fatima Ramos Dos Santos, as well as another woman and a baby, were approached by a woman driving a black sport utility vehicle. The women, who did not know the driver, agreed to give directions and entered the SUV with their children, police said.

The driver later forced one mother and child out of the car, and made off with Ramos and the baby, police said. Ramos was released south of Fort Myers shortly afterward, but the woman in the SUV kept the baby.

"We are still looking for this woman, but it is not a woman who desperately needed a baby," police spokeswoman Shelly Flynn said in a story posted on the News-Press Web site. "Now we are looking for a group of people."

Police initially reported the baby's name as Brayn. A spokesman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement did not have any additional information about the case Saturday.

Local churches have posted a $21,000 reward for Bryan's return.

http://www.local6.com/news/10502222/detail.html

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Police Insist Baby Kidnapping Was Targeted, Not Random

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:32




POSTED: 12:37 pm EST December 11, 2006
UPDATED: 12:44 pm EST December 11, 2006

FT. MYERS, Fla. -- Police believe a 1-month-old baby was kidnapped because the parents owed money to a smuggling ring, but the child's parents told a Fort Myers newspaper that the cops have it all wrong.

Authorities think Bryan Dos Santos-Gomes was taken as payment for his father's debt. Sunday, the boy's parents told The New Press that smugglers did help them into the United States from Brazil two years ago, but don't think they would take their son over a few hundred dollars.

"We want to make sure that the people of Ft. Myers and Lee County know we're not experiencing a female that is driving around the county looking to kidnap babies. This is a human trafficking motive," said Chief Hilton Daniels, Ft. Myers Police Department.

Initially, investigators believed the boy was kidnapped by a woman who wanted to claim the baby as her own, but now say the plot was part of an elaborate scheme involving a group of individuals.

http://www.wftv.com/news/10509388/detail.html

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Re: Bryan Gomes

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:34

Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2006

By Melissa Cassutt

Image

Her toes curl in her black sandals, and her head tilts to the floor.

Her skin is delicate, her clothes — simple. She wears a gold ring, the only jewelry on her body. She's a country girl, soft-spoken and shy. She's young.

To her right is her boyfriend, Jurandir Gomes Costa. They sit together on an aging floral couch in mobile home No. 43, surrounded by a face they haven't touched for more than a week. Their 1-month old smiles in some photographs, sleeps in others.

"He was a good baby," said Costa, 26. "He was really a nice boy. He just slept all the time. He was just awake for meals."

Outside, another face plasters the walls of trailers and windows of cars — the sketch of a woman suspected of stealing Baby Bryan. Her face is taped three times on a green Explorer next to their home.

Maria de Fatima Ramos Dos Santos, the boy's mother, isn't angry. She's heartbroken.

"We think someone is going to see her and is going to contact us," said Ramos Dos Santos, 23. "I have faith in God that my baby will be back."

She places her hand to her heart, resting her head on her fingers. She is tired. She has slept only a few hours in the past 11 days. She refuses to eat, despite the food Silvana Franca, a Brazilian minister who has been visiting with the family for a week, brings her.

Bryan is scheduled for an appointment today at Lee Memorial Hospital for a checkup, Ramos Dos Santos said. Her husband reminds Franca to cancel the appointment.

Ramos Dos Santos was pregnant with Bryan when Costa left Minas Gerais, a state in Brazil. She followed five months later.

He worked in a sugar cane factory in Brazil. Here he tiles floors. It's better pay. It's a better living. It's a better future, he said.

"He's a very poor guy in Brazil," Franca said. "He comes from a very small town."

He hasn't worked in more than a week. Costa and his wife travel to the police station every day to talk to detectives. They wait by the window or pace inside.

They find themselves in a makeshift studio under the tree outside their home, surrounded by media. Cameras snap and television reporters jockey for the closest position. They all ask if the couple was smuggled into the country — a question prompted by Fort Myers police announcing Saturday the kidnapping is payment for a human smuggling debt.

Costa's face drops each time the translator asks the question again. The couple admits they are here illegally. They decline to elaborate. They give little credit to the new theory that their child was stolen to settle the couple's smuggling debt.

"Being legal or not being legal is not important," said Rev. Israel Suarez, executive director of the Nations Association. "I don't care about that. This issue is how are we going to get that baby."

So they wait.

In agony, Suarez said.

"You want to keep your faith, but you have the reality," he said. "It's not easy. The baby needs that mother and the mother needs that baby."

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2006/dec/12/nfamily_speaks_about_missing_baby/?local_news

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Police not talking about Baby Bryan case today

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:35


Police not talking about Baby Bryan case today



Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2006


Daily News staff

The Fort Myers Police Department released a statement this morning that they will not be holding a press conference today regarding the case of missing Baby Bryan.

"At this time investigators do not have any new information in the abduction case to release to the media," the statement said.

Bryan dos Santos Gomes has been missing for 13 days now. He was taken from his mother on Dec. 1 by a woman at knifepoint.

Originally police were looking for a woman who wanted a baby or had lost a baby but on Saturday they revealed that the motive behind the case is human smuggling. Baby Bryan's parents were smuggled into this country from Brazil and owe the smugglers money, police say.

Baby Bryan is just over 1-month-old.

There is a $21,000 reward for the safe return of Baby Bryan.

Anyone with information on Baby Bryan is asked to contact the Fort Myers Police Department at (239) 334-4155 or to call 911 or a toll-free number, 1-877-667-1296, set up specifically for this case. The department can also be contacted at a newly established e-mail address: tipline@fmpolice.com. Those uncomfortable calling the police can contact Rev. Israel Suarez, executive director of the Nations Association, at his office (239) 332-7575 or on his cell (239) 707-5520. Suarez said he is available 24 hours a day.

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2006/dec/13/polcie_not_talking_about_baby_bryan_case_today/?latest

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Police Not Giving Up in Baby Kidnap Case

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:36

Police Not Giving Up in Baby Kidnap Case


Wednesday, December 13, 2006 4:46 PM CST



Image
By PHIL DAVIS

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The sketch of the woman who snatched baby Bryan Dos Santos Gomes at knifepoint is plastered everywhere amid the mobile homes at the Tropical Trailer Park. It is tacked to light poles, pasted to stop signs and taped on the windows of neighbors' cars and trailers in this working-class southwest Florida neighborhood. At the center of it all is Unit 43, a worn trailer where Maria Fatima Ramos Dos Santos, 23, and Jurandir Gomes Costa, 26, were raising their newborn son. Bryan was kidnapped Dec. 1, possibly because his Brazilian parents failed to pay a debt to smugglers who brought them to America two years ago, police said.

The couple have transformed their Ford Explorer into a rolling wanted poster. Its windows are covered with snapshots of Bryan and the sketch of the suspect.

"We think someone is going to see her and is going to contact us," Ramos told the Naples Daily News on Monday. "I have faith in God that my baby will be back."

The Brazilian parents acknowledge they owed "coyotes" _ human smugglers _ a few hundred dollars, but they said they believe it's unlikely the men were behind the kidnapping. They haven't explained why as police continue to say their pursuit of a human smuggling ring is the strongest lead in the case.

Police Chief Hilton Daniels said the couple has been very cooperative. The FBI agreed. But they declined to say what the couple has told them, citing the ongoing investigation.

Investigators initially said the suspect was a woman looking to steal a baby to claim as her own. Police announced the new direction in the case on Saturday.

"We do not want the public to believe we have a deranged woman running around Lee County kidnapping babies if we have another motive," Daniels said. "Are we ruling that out totally 100 percent? No. It could very well be that way. But we believe right now the motive is smuggling."

Police said the boy's mother, accompanied by another woman and her baby, were approached Dec. 1 by a woman driving a sport utility vehicle. The women agreed to give directions and got into the SUV with their children, police said.

The driver later forced the other woman and her child out of the SUV, police said. Ramos was released south of Fort Myers but the driver kept the baby, authorities said. Ramos said she was threatened with a knife.

Daniels said Tuesday a task force of local, state and federal investigators have received more than 300 tips so far. Most were dead ends.

A $21,000 reward is being offered for Bryan's safe return.

"The investigation has not stalled. We have not stopped. We have not slowed down," Daniels said.

A service of the Associated Press(AP)

http://www.jg-tc.com/articles/2006/12/13/ap/us/d8m07fv83.txt

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Police name 'man of interest' in kidnapping case

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:38

Police name 'man of interest' in kidnapping case


naplesnews.com

Police want to question Lehigh Acres resident they describe as a ‘known enforcer of a human smuggling ring’

By Melissa Cassutt, Tracy X. Miguel

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Fort Myers Police are searching for a "known enforcer of a human smuggling ring," the first person of interest named in the search for 1-month-old Baby Bryan.

Investigators say Valter Coelho, 45, 4717 First St. S.W., Lehigh Acres, might have information that could aid police in the search for the newborn, who has been missing since he was taken from his mother at knifepoint more than two weeks ago.

Fort Myers police e-mailed a brief press release to the media at 2:20 p.m. Friday announcing the search for Coelho, but the statement didn't indicate why police consider him a "person of interest" in the kidnapping. Police spokeswoman Shelly Flynn said investigators are not ready to release additional information.

Silvana Franca, a Brazilian minister who has helped translate for the parents of Baby Bryan, said the family had not heard about the break in the case when police announced they were searching for Coelho.

Franca said the family knows Coelho, and that his name came up with many other names when the parents were talking with the police.

"I think this is just one of the names they knew from their hometown," Franca said after talking with the parents Friday afternoon.

"What they hope every day is that the police are going to find the baby," Franca said. "They're confident the baby will come back, but nothing has changed with this new information."

Police were at Coelho's Lehigh Acres home around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, said Kenny Thermits, 37, who lives across the street from Coelho. Thermits, who moved into his home on First Street last week, said he hadn't meet Coelho or anyone else who lives in the home.

According to property records, the home is owned by Robert and Claudia Marques.

Nilson Joe Pereria, 70, said he has lived at 4717 First St. S.W. for three months with Coelho, Coelho's wife and two other men. Pereria, who is from Brazil, said he was out of the house when police came. When he returned, everyone was gone, he said. The last time Pereria saw Coelho was Wednesday.

When asked if anything seemed suspicious about Coelho, Pereria, speaking in Spanish, said nothing seemed out of the norm.

"If there was something that was suspicious, I wouldn't stay," he said.

Pereira said he has a valid visa to stay in the United States and has the means to move if he had suspected anything illegal was happening in the house.

Another neighbor, Vandrias Grant, 44, who lives around the corner from Coelho's home, said her 12-year-old son walks along First Street to get to the bus stop every day. Friday afternoon, her son and a handful of neighborhood children were playing football in the quiet street, eyeing television news crews that had set up cameras at the end of the block.

"Oh, my gosh, I can't believe this is right close to home," Grant said. "I come through here all the time to get my son."

Grant said she's never seen more than one or two people in the driveway where Coelho lives. The light brown house sits on a well-trimmed lawn, blending with the other newly built homes on the street.

"You would think, it's a nice house ... I don't know," Grant said. "I'm shocked that it's so close to home."

Anna Rodriguez, founder of the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking, said Coelho isn't familiar to her organization. The coalition provides services and training on human trafficking to law enforcement agencies, often serving as a link between victims and authorities.

"Usually, the traffickers and enforcers are from the same city," Rodriguez said. "This is the first time we've dealt with a Brazilian."

Many Brazilians arrive in the United States daily, some illegally and others with visas that eventually expire, she said.

The baby's father, Jurandir Gomes Costa, 26, said last week that he arrived in Florida from Brazil nearly two years ago, and his girlfriend, the baby's mother, Maria de Fatima Ramos Dos Santos, 23, followed several months later. He initially declined to say they were smuggled, but after Rodriguez suggested to Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators that human trafficking could be the motive, Costa provided details of how the couple arrived in the country.

Bryan's parents hadn't kept up with payments to the smugglers who brought them to this country, according to Fort Myers Police Chief Hilton Daniels, who didn't know the amount of the family's debt.

Inaccurate information from the start set law enforcement back a week, which Rodriguez said was understandable, given fears immigrants have that stem from how police operate in Latin American countries.

"These people don't trust law enforcement or anybody because of the countries they came from," Rodriguez said. "One of the things we'd like the media to make clear is that families need to come forward and provide all the information they know. We're here to help them. They need to trust us."

Bryan and his mother were abducted Dec. 1 by a Hispanic woman described as 28 to 30 years old with straight black hair. Ramos Dos Santos and a friend who also had a baby said they got into the suspect's car to show her how to get to Pine Manor, a neighborhood in Fort Myers.

The woman eventually let out the other woman and her child but pushed Ramos Dos Santos back into the car. The woman then drove south to Estero, where she stopped, pointed a knife toward the child and told Ramos Dos Santos to leave the car. An Amber Alert was issued at 7:15 p.m. on Dec. 1.

Anyone with information on Baby Bryan is asked to contact the Fort Myers Police Department at (239) 334-4155 or to call 911 or a toll-free number, 1-877-667-1296, set up specifically for this case. The department can also be contacted at a newly established e-mail address: tipline@fmpolice.com. Those uncomfortable calling the police can contact the Rev. Israel Suarez, executive director of the Nations Association, at his office (239) 332-7575, or on his cell (239) 707-5520. Suarez said he is available 24 hours a day.

Staff writer Aisling Swift contributed to this report.

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2006/dec/16/police_name_man_interest_kidnap/?print

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Person of interest in kidnapping case contacts police

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:39

Person of interest in kidnapping case contacts police


Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006



Daily News staff

Originally published — 10:43 p.m., December 16, 2006
Updated — 3:03 a.m., December 17, 2006

Fort Myers police announced late Saturday that they have been contacted by a man they describe as a "person of interest" in the disappearance of Baby Bryan and he has agreed to be questioned.

In a short press release issued about 10:20 p.m. Saturday, a department spokeswoman said investigators are interviewing Valter Coelho, 45, of Lehigh Acres.

The release didn't give any specifics on the time or location or expected duration of the interview.

The police spokeswoman said investigators wouldn't release any more information than what is on the press release and that the media would be notified of any further developments in the case.

The press release stated:

"Investigators working the baby Bryan case are interviewing Valter Coelho (d.o.b. 8-14-61 of 4717 1st Street SW, Lehigh Acres).

"Coelho contacted police and made himself available for questioning for fear of exposure on America's Most Wanted."

Fort Myers police have described Coelho as a "known enforcer of a human smuggling ring" and they suspect the baby was taken as a result of a debt owed by the parents, who were smuggled into the United States from Brazil.

He was the first "person of interest," which isn't the same as a suspect, named in the search for 1-month-old Baby Bryan.

Bryan and his mother were abducted Dec. 1 by a woman described as Hispanic and 28 to 30 years old, with straight black hair.

An Amber Alert was issued at 7:15 p.m. on Dec. 1.

Anyone with information on Baby Bryan is asked to contact the Fort Myers Police Department at (239) 334-4155 or to call 911 or a toll-free number, 1-877-667-1296, set up specifically for this case. The department can also be contacted at a newly established e-mail address: tipline@fmpolice.com. Those uncomfortable calling the police can contact the Rev. Israel Suarez, executive director of the Nations Association, at his office (239) 332-7575, or on his cell (239) 707-5520. Suarez said he is available 24 hours a day.

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2006/dec/16/person_interest_kidnapping_case_agrees_be_question/?latest

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Church leader: Baby Bryan's parents know "person of interest"

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:40

Church leader: Baby Bryan's parents know "person of interest"


Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006



By Jamie Henline (Contact)
Originally published — 2:03 p.m., December 17, 2006
Updated — 9:54 p.m., December 17, 2006

Baby Bryan's parents know Valter Coelho, the man Fort Myers police have named as a "person of interest" in the kidnapping of Baby Bryan, a minister says.

Silvana Franca, the minister of Igreja Presbiteriana Brasileira de Naples, who has been translating for the family since shortly after Bryan's abduction on Dec. 1, said Sunday afternoon that the parents, Maria De Fatima Ramos Dos Santos and Jurandir Gomes Costa, knew Coelho when they lived in Brazil.

"They don't know if this guy has any connection or not" to the kidnapping, said Franca, adding that Coelho was one of several names the parents gave to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The parents did not know Coelho was involved in human smuggling, Franca said. Police have described Coelho as a "known enforcer in a human smuggling ring."

Coelho, 45 of Lehigh Acres, turned himself in to police Saturday night, for fear that he would be included in an "America's Most Wanted" broadcast about Baby Bryan's kidnapping, said a press release from the Fort Myers Police Department.

The release didn't give any specifics on the time or location or expected duration of the interview.

The police spokeswoman said investigators wouldn't release any more information than what is on the press release and that the media would be notified of any further developments in the case.

Fort Myers police have described Coelho as a "known enforcer of a human smuggling ring" and they suspect the baby was taken as a result of a debt owed by the parents, who were smuggled into the United States from Brazil.

Bryan and his mother were abducted at knifepoint on the afternoon of Dec. 1 by a woman described as Hispanic and 28- to 30-years-old, with straight black hair. The mother was then shoved out of the black sports utility vehicle the suspect was driving in Estero.

An Amber Alert was issued at 7:15 p.m. that same day.

Anyone with information on Baby Bryan is asked to contact the Fort Myers Police Department at (239) 334-4155 or to call 911 or a toll-free number, 1-877—667-1296, set up specifically for this case. The department can also be contacted at a newly established e-mail address: tipline@fmpolice.com. Those uncomfortable calling the police can contact the Rev. Israel Suarez, executive director of the Nations Association, at his office (239) 332-7575, or on his cell (239) 707-5520. Suarez said he is available 24 hours a day.

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2006/dec/17/church_leader_baby_bryans_parents_know_person_inte/?latest

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Baby Bryan "person of interest" remains in custody

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:41

Baby Bryan "person of interest" remains in custody


Monday, Dec. 18, 2006



Staff and wire reports

Monday, December 18, 2006

Police said a man they described as a “known enforcer in a human smuggling ring” voluntarily came in for questioning about the abduction of a Brazilian couple’s baby boy 16 days ago.

Valter Coehlo, 45, of Lehigh Acres, “made himself available for questioning for fear of exposure on Americas Most Wanted,” Fort Myers police spokeswoman Shelly Flynn said in a brief e-mail statement late Saturday. A task force searching for six-week-old Bryan Dos Santos Gomes said Friday Coehlo might have information about the Dec. 1 kidnapping.

Lee County jail officials confirmed Coelho was being held for Immigration and Customs Enforcement late Sunday night.

Coehlo is not being called a suspect in the case.

Lea Coehlo’s said her husband is not connected to a human smuggling ring.

Silvana Franca, the minister of Igreja Presbiteriana Brasileira de Naples, said Sunday that Bryan’s parents, Maria Fatima Ramos Dos Santos, 23, and Jurandir Gomes Costa, 26, knew Coehlo in Brazil.

“They don’t know if this guy has any connection or not,” said Franca, who has been translating for Bryan’s parents.

The couple, who do not have a phone, could not be reached Sunday.

Police on Sunday declined to discuss the case.

Bryan was taken from his mother at knifepoint by a woman in an SUV who gave them a ride. Investigators said the baby might have been taken because his parents failed to pay human smugglers. Bryan’s parents were brought into the United States illegally from Brazil, but failed to pay the smugglers’ entire fee, police said.

Police believe the alleged kidnapper belongs to the smuggling ring, though they initially thought the boy was likely taken by a woman looking to steal a baby to claim as her own.

Investigators blanketed the Brazilian community where Coehlo lives, showing his picture to residents, local merchants said.

But his wife said they never went to the couple’s house. When friends told them investigators were searching for Coehlo, Lea Coehlo said they panicked and fled to Boca Raton, believing the investigators were immigration agents.

The couple returned after a friend called and said police wanted to talk about the kidnapping. Valter Coehlo went straight to authorities, his landlord said.

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2006/dec/18/baby_bryan_person_interest_remains_custody/?latest

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Deportation of missing baby's parents urged

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:42

Deportation of missing baby's parents urged


By ERIN GILLESPIE
egillespie@news-press.com

Originally posted on December 17, 2006

Local residents are pushing for the parents of a missing Fort Myers baby to be deported at the same time state, local, and federal authorities are searching for 1-month-old Bryan Dos Santos Gomes.

"They came to the U.S. looking for a better life, but they broke our laws," Daniel Moore, of Lehigh Acres, said. "They basically made a deal with the devil getting here. Letting them stay in the country until the investigation is over — that could be two or three years."

While some in the community are calling for deportation, most illegal immigrants only face such a plight if they commit a crime.

No one in law enforcement or immigration would directly address what would happen to the parents.

Bryan Dos Santos Gomes was taken from his mother Dec. 1 near the family's south Fort Myers trailer park after she and a friend got into a suspect's car to give her directions. The Fort Myers Police Department has said the abduction is connected to the parents being smuggled into the country.

Fort Myers police Chief Hilton Daniels said finding the baby is the only priority right now.

"If anyone has any problems with immigration and they want us to take it up, it is not the meeting to get into that at this time," Daniels said. "After this baby is returned, we can have another meeting at another time."

Last weekend, Daniels said authorities believe the baby was taken as reprisal because parents Maria Ramos Dos Santos and Jurandir Gomes Costa owed money to "coyotes" that smuggled them into the country illegally from Brazil.

Eight days into the investigation, Daniels said it was information authorities had just learned.

Maria Rodriguez, director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, said talk of deporting the parents is like "rubbing salt in the wound" of dealing with a kidnapped child.

"It's sad that a tragedy like this is being used against the people who are being victimized by it," she said.

Linda Johnson-Jones, a member of Americans Standing Tall, a Cape Coral-based group that fights illegal immigration, said she believes the parents lied to authorities.

"I think they should be held at an (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) headquarters or arrested, which would really put the public in an outcry because of bleeding hearts," she said. "They've lied to all the law enforcement people."

Johnson-Jones said the police might have been able to find the baby sooner if the parents had told the complete story from the beginning, and it would have saved tax money as well.

But Daniels said the parents have been cooperating from the beginning, and he was hopeful he was getting the full story from them.

"I read the reports into what they say to the media and what they are saying to us," he said.

The Rev. Israel Suarez, an immigration advocate and chaplain for the Fort Myers Police Department, said authorities can deal with the parents' legal status after baby Bryan is found.

"If we deal with the immigration issue now, we take away from the investigation and how we search for the baby," he said. "This is an American baby."

Barbara Gonzalez, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said ICE is cooperating to help find the baby.

"One of ICE's missions is targeting human smuggling and human trafficking," she said. The baby being taken under force is considered human smuggling.

Gonzalez would not comment on possible deportation proceedings for the parents. "ICE does not confirm the status of someone who is not in our custody," she said.

In general, if a person in custody is found to be in the country illegally, an immigration judge can hear the case and decide on deportation.

"You could send them home now and let the investigation continue," said Cape Coral resident Scott Klyce, who called the newspaper to complain about immigration issues. "Or you could send them home once there is some sort of closure."

Moore said he would be disappointed if immigration officials didn't deport the parents, but he wouldn't be surprised.

"We want to gloss over the fact that they brought it on themselves," he said. "If his parents wouldn't have come into the country illegally, there wouldn't have been a problem to begin with."

Johnson-Jones said while the couple is not detained, they might leave the area.

"They snuck in. They can sneak out," she said. "They're going to bolt, and they'll just blend in with the rest of the illegal here."

Rodriguez said it could be possible for the parents to be eligible for what is called an "adjustment of status," which legalizes immigrants.

One possibility: a newly developed "U" visa will be given to victims of certain crimes, including kidnapping, who are helping authorities investigate those crimes.

Rodriguez said authorities need the community's support and communication to solve the case, and rumors of deportation are not going to help.

"It could affect the ability to do effective policing, the ability of witnesses and victims to come forward and talk to police," she said. "They need to rely on community involvement, and they're not going to get that if people are going to be afraid of being deported."

People who know where the baby is might not come forward now anyway, Suarez said, since police might believe they are part of a smuggling ring.

"If you put $100,000 on the table, they're not going to come out," he said.

Johnson-Jones said illegal immigrants are afraid of coyotes and won't come forward even if they have information about baby Bryan.

"They know what would happen if they say something," she said.

"They still may have family that's somewhere that could end up dead."

— The News-Press staff writers Michelle Start and Jacob Ogles contributed to this report.

http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061217/NEWS01/612170411/1075

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Baby Bryan "person of interest" to be deported

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:43

Baby Bryan "person of interest" to be deported


Monday, Dec. 18, 2006



Staff and wire reports
Originally published — 7:33 a.m., December 18, 2006
Updated — 12:58 p.m., December 18, 2006

The "person of interest'' in the abduction of Baby Bryan will be deported, immigration authorities said Monday.

Valter Coelho, 45, of Lehigh Acres, will be sent back to Brazil, said Barbara Gonzales, of the Miami office of Immigration and Custom Enforcement.

Fort Myers police last week described Coelho as a “known enforcer in a human smuggling ring.” Police said he voluntarily came in for questioning Saturday about the abduction of a Brazilian couple’s baby boy 16 days ago.

Valter Coelho, 45, of Lehigh Acres, “made himself available for questioning for fear of exposure on Americas Most Wanted,” Fort Myers police spokeswoman Shelly Flynn said in a brief e-mail statement late Saturday. A task force searching for six-week-old Bryan Dos Santos Gomes said Friday Coehlo might have information about the Dec. 1 kidnapping.

Lee County jail officials confirmed Coelho was being held for Immigration and Customs Enforcement late Sunday night.

Coehlo is not being called a suspect in the case.

Silvana Franca, the minister of Igreja Presbiteriana Brasileira de Naples, said Sunday that Bryan’s parents, Maria Fatima Ramos Dos Santos, 23, and Jurandir Gomes Costa, 26, knew Coehlo in Brazil.

“They don’t know if this guy has any connection or not,” said Franca, who has been translating for Bryan’s parents.

Police have declined to further discuss the case.

Bryan was taken from his mother at knifepoint by a woman in an SUV who gave them a ride. Investigators said the baby might have been taken because his parents failed to pay human smugglers. Bryan’s parents were brought into the United States illegally from Brazil, but failed to pay the smugglers’ entire fee, police said.

Police believe the alleged kidnapper belongs to the smuggling ring, though they initially thought the boy was likely taken by a woman looking to steal a baby to claim as her own.

Investigators blanketed the Brazilian community where Coelho lives, showing his picture to residents, local merchants said.

But his wife said they never went to the couple’s house. When friends told them investigators were searching for Coelho, Lea Coelho said they panicked and fled to Boca Raton, believing the investigators were immigration agents.

The couple returned after a friend called and said police wanted to talk about the kidnapping. Valter Coelho went straight to authorities, his landlord said.

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2006/dec/18/baby_bryan_person_interest_remains_custody/?latest

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Fort Myers police over their heads in Baby Bryan abduction

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:43

Fort Myers police over their heads in Baby Bryan abduction



Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2006



By Tom Hanson

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Fort Myers Police Department needs to do what’s best for Baby Bryan.

They need to swallow their pride. They need to realize that they’re out of their league. They need to relinquish the lead on this case.

The kidnapping of Baby Bryan isn’t a drunk and disorderly conflict between a couple yahoos in the parking lot of a strip joint. This isn’t even your basic abduction. The case of baby Bryan reaches international proportions. And I’ll bet most of the FMPD officers think the capital of Brazil is Rio de Janeiro.

Anna Rodriguez, with the Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking, noted that many police agencies seek out her agency and take classes to better educate themselves about this growing problem. But she said the FMPD has skipped out. Rodriguez said the case could have been further along if the FMPD had studied the basics of human trafficking.

The first couple of days after the abduction, the FMPD spoke with confidence. They held regular, almost daily, press conferences. They acted as though they knew what they were doing.

Now as we reach 20 days into the disappearance of the 1-month-old, and the FMPD is now on its second motive — they’re showing that this isn’t a small-town crime. They’ve holed themselves up inside the department, giving out little to no information.

When the agency released the name of the “person of interest,” Valter Coelho, it came in a two-sentence press release. When Coelho turned himself in the next day, once again, another two-sentence, uninformative note. When immigration officials detained Coelho, the media didn’t even get a courtesy e-mail.

There was no press conference. There was no explanation. Just an eerie silence.

John Walsh of “America’s Most Wanted” told me last week that the media is as important as the detectives in the role of finding a missing child. Walsh spent 30 minutes talking about the case. All the FMPD’s press conferences combined have perhaps reached 30 minutes.

In the first couple of days of the investigation, the police propped up Baby Bryan’s parents to portray the victims. Where have the parents been since the change in the motive of the case? Then again, where has the FMPD been?

Since changing the motive to human smuggling instead of a woman just wanting a child, not a single FMPD detective has spoken on the record. We get Chief Hilton Daniels, decked out in his freshly-pressed uniform, telling us the bare minimum.

On the third day of the investigation, Detective Mike Carr said it was important that the parents be at every press conference. Carr said the public needed to see the emotion of the case. Yet, we haven’t seen the parents and the police together at a press conference in two weeks.

As a department of 192 officers with a $24 million budget, the FMPD has to be feeling overwhelmed. They say it’s a joint investigation with them on the lead. It’s time for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to take the reins. It’s time that the Federal Bureau of Investigation shows its muscles. Let someone who knows that Brasilia is the capital of Brazil find the people who took Baby Bryan.

Let’s not forget that it took the FMPD several hours in the very beginning of this case to find someone who even spoke or understood Portuguese. It took them four days to release a composite drawing of the suspect. It took eight days to discover what it believes is the true motive in the case.

I hope the FMPD will prove me wrong. A great Christmas gift would be to find Baby Bryan. In the spirit of holiday giving, hopefully, the FMPD will let another agency handle this case.

- - -

E-mail Tom Hanson at tahanson@bonitanews.com

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2006/dec/20/tom_hanson_fort_myers_police_over_their_heads_baby/?latest

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Still few answers in baby kidnapping

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:44

Still few answers in baby kidnapping


Early edition
By MELANIE AVE
Published December 22, 2006


FORT MYERS -- Even now, the young parents smile, wide and toothy, when they talk about their baby boy with the black hair and gray eyes.

He was so cute when he twisted his mouth. And his cheeks were chubby like his mother. Just look at his 2-day-old photo.

But their smiles disappear like flashes of light when they talk about the kidnapping.

In one of the nation’s most unusual child abduction cases, the 7-week-old infant was taken Dec. 1 by a knife-wielding woman in a dark two-door SUV.

About 4 p.m. that day, his mother, a friend and their two babies got into the woman’s car to give her directions to a nearby neighborhood. About two hours later and miles away, the driver told the mother to get out and leave the baby or she would kill her.

Police say the infant was abducted because his Brazilian parents failed to pay a debt to smugglers who brought them into the country illegally in 2005.

His parents dismiss that motive, insisting a crazy woman took their only child. A $21,000 award is being offered for information leading to the baby’s safe return.

The Fort Myers Police Department, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the FBI and U.S. Immigration and Customs officials have investigated hundreds of leads.

An Amber Alert report has been issued. The baby’s abduction has been featured on America’s Most Wanted television show and remains an almost daily story in the local newspaper.

Earlier this week, police questioned a man they said is connected to a human smuggling ring, Valter Coehlo, 45, who lives east of Fort Myers.

Coehlo, who is from the same small city as the couple, Itaipe, Brazil, was released Thursday to immigration officials for deportation.

Meanwhile, in the family’s new hometown, sympathy is beginning to wither.

Sitting in the family’s ramshackle mobile home, Maria Fatima Ramos Dos Santos, the boy’s 23-year-old mother, rubs her hands over the baby’s bright red “My First Christmas’’ outfit.

Her husband, Jurandir Gomes Costa, a 26-year-old tile layer, stares at the floor.

He says he just wanted to give his family a better life in America.

***

Many people here in this Gulf Coast city of about 50,000 people are divided over the Baby Bryan case.

Fliers showing a police sketch of the woman who drove away with the baby -- a heavyset Spanish-speaking female with straight black hair -- hang on some store windows and doors. But much of the initial community fervor to find the baby has been replaced with questions.

Why did Dos Ramos get into a car with a stranger? Why did the family immigrate illegally? Were they up front with investigators about being smuggled into the country?

Some residents have even called for the couple’s deportation.

“Honest to God, I think it’s their own fault,’’ said Pam Davis, 39, who works at a pet store a few miles from the mobile home park where the family lives. “I feel bad for the baby but ...

“They knew when the baby was taken the reason why.’’

The pet store’s flier about Bryan has disappeared but another about a lost white Maltese remains.

On the other side of the issue is Fort Myers uniform shop owner Pierre Delva, 56, who feels sorry for the family.

“Losing a newborn baby, that’s painful,’’ said Delva, who immigrated to the United States from Haiti in 1976 and became a U.S. citizen in 1988. “That has nothing to do with them being here illegally.

“The baby’s here. The baby’s an American.’’

***

Both Gomes and Dos Santos are from large, poor families.

Gomes said he worked on a sugar cane plantation, where he earned about $5 a day. Dos Santos cleaned and babysat for a doctor, earning about $70 a month.

“The life was very hard,’’ Gomes said in his native Portuguese, through an interpreter. He said he heard the United States “was a wonderful place’’ where it was “easy to make money.’’

They connected with smugglers and Gomes said he came to the U.S. in April 2005. They sold their house to come up with the money for Dos Santos to follow in September 2005.

They refused to say how much they paid to human traffickers but both said they were paying off their debt, which was a “small amount.’’

Once in Fort Myers, Gomes found work laying tile and Dos Santos worked in a day care. She gave birth Nov. 3 to a healthy 8-pound-5-ounce baby.

“It was the best feeling in the world,’’ Dos Santos said.

On Dec. 1, Dos Santos said she and her baby were with a friend and her 8-month-old child when a woman stopped and asked for directions.

They got in her SUV and showed her the way. At some point, the friend and her child got out.
But the woman drove off with Dos Santos and her baby.

Dos Santos said Bryan was sleeping in a child seat when the woman pulled out a sharp knife.

“The lady told me she had a baby,’’ Dos Santos said. “Her mother took the baby’’ because she wasn’t able to take care of it.

A Fort Myers grandmother told The News-Press she was pushing her grandson in a stroller the day of the kidnapping when a woman in a black truck asked for directions to a hospital.

The woman, Norma Rios, 56, told the newspaper the driver twice asked her to get into the truck but she refused.
Gomes and Dos Santos say they don’t understand why it’s taking so long to find their baby. They refuse to believe he is hurt in any way.

“It’s very difficult for us,’’ said Dos Santos, who says she is too depressed to eat. “We have faith in God we’ll have him back.’’

Anyone with information about the disappearance of Baby Bryan is encouraged to call the Fort Myers Police Department at (239) 338-2120.

Times researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Melanie Ave can be reached at (727) 893-8813 or mave@sptimes.com.


[Last modified December 22, 2006, 20]

http://www.sptimes.com/2006/12/22/Tampabay/Still_few_answers_in_.shtml

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Baby Bryan missing 28 days

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:45

Baby Bryan missing 28 days


Latest News - Posted 2:02 P.m.



By Ed Johnson
ejohnson@news-press.com
Originally posted on December 28, 2006


Detectives are pursuing more than 400 leads in their continuing effort to locate a kidnapped Fort Myers infant.

Most of the leads are routine followups, said Shelly Flynn, a spokeswoman for the Fort Myers police. Officers continue to check reports from people who believe they might have seen the kidnapper, depicted in a police composite sketch, or the SUV she escaped in, Flynn added.

Bryan Dos Santos Gomes was just 28 days old when he was abducted at knifepoint after his mother, Maria Ramos Dos Santos, 23, and a friend got into the kidnapper’s car to give the woman directions to the Pine Manor section of Fort Myers.

Today marks the 28th day since the Dec. 1 abduction, a poignant mark that investigators did not anticipate reaching when the crime occurred.

At that time police believed they were looking for a woman who abducted the baby for her own. Those cases are usually resolved within days, two weeks at most, according to the records of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Bryan has now been away from his parents longer than they had him.

Six members of the Fort Myers police department continue a full time assignment to the case. They continue to be backed up by agents from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI, Flynn said.

The focus is still a reprisal against the baby’s parents, Dos Santos and Jurandir Gomes Costa, 26, by human smugglers.

If the police are correct, Bryan was taken because his parents did not pay the smugglers the full amount due.

That’s something the parents dispute.

Costa and Dos Santos both admit being smuggled into the U.S. from their native Brazil. Both ultimately admitted owing money to the smugglers, but set the amount at no more than a “few hundred dollars.”

Costa has vigorously denied the police theory of the case. In repeated interviews he has insisted it was a deranged woman who took Bryan.

If the police have any solid leads they are keeping it quiet.

“We are not going to discuss any specifics,” Flynn said, following a course police have charted since the second week of the investigation, when human smuggling became the focus.

The genesis of that change still remains a public mystery, with police refusing to say what sparked the shift.

http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061228/NEWS0110/61228033

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New year and nothing new in month-old case of missing Baby Bryan

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:46

New year and nothing new in month-old case of missing Baby Bryan


Monday, Jan. 1, 2007


By Elizabeth Wright

Originally published — 7:26 p.m., December 31, 2006
Updated — 12:30 a.m., January 1, 2007

Nothing is new. That’s the word from the Fort Myers Police Department one month into the search for Baby Bryan. That’s the word from the missing baby’s parents and their friends.

Nothing is new, and it’s difficult, very difficult for the infant’s father, Jurandir Gomes Costa.

It’s difficult to comfort the baby’s mother, Maria de Fatima Ramos Dos Santos.

It’s difficult to watch the kidnapping — an event which still fills the couple’s life and thoughts — fade away from notice somewhat. It’s difficult not to count the days, not to think about their son.

“E muito dificil,” the father says again and again in Portuguese.

He has been going over all the “what ifs” and possibilities of the Dec. 1 kidnapping, wishing the police would search every sport utility vehicle in the country, wishing that something had gone differently.

He dwells on this so much, talking rapidly and with a pained look, that Silvana Franca, a minister at a Brazilian church in Naples who translated his words in an interview at his home in Fort Myers last week, simply said: “He’s repeating the same things.”

As for hope, Gomes Costa said, yes, he has some. “Part of it comes from the police. They say not to give up. The other part comes from God,” he said. “But it is too difficult for us. I thought it would be easier, and that the baby would be with us by now.”

What happened Dec. 1, police say, was that Bryan Dos Santos Gomes, just shy of 1 month at the time, was taken from his mother at knifepoint by a short, Hispanic woman driving a dark SUV in Fort Myers.

As for why Bryan was kidnapped, investigators have said they believe he was taken because his parents failed to keep up with payments to human smugglers after those smugglers had helped the couple enter the United States illegally from Brazil.

Gomes Costa confirmed that he paid to come to Florida, as did Bryan’s mother, but while he said he trusts police, he is frustrated they continue to say that has anything to do with why his son is missing.

“I don’t know the reason that it happened,” he said.

Whatever led to the kidnapping, he hopes more can be done to find woman who took Bryan.

“We can’t understand why it’s taking the police so long to get this person,” Gomes Costa said. “This lady has to be somewhere, and they need to catch her.”

Fliers with an artist’s depiction of the suspect’s face still hung on telephone poles and homes in the trailer park off Linhart Avenue where Bryan’s parents live last week. The paper fliers were puckered, as they’ve had time to get wet and dry out again many times since they were posted.

As the search for Bryan neared a month, Shelly Flynn, spokeswoman for the Fort Myers Police Department, the lead law enforcement agency in the investigation, said the department has not let up in the search.

Six people at the department continue to be dedicated to working on the case, she said, along with people from other law enforcement agencies. Police have more than 400 leads now, but Flynn declined to discuss specifics of the investigation.

“It’s pretty much status quo,” she said

Gomes Costa arrived in Florida on April 1, 2005. He landed work putting in tile floors for about $400 a week, and Ramos Dos Santos joined him five months later.

There are no formal papers to show they are married, but Ramos Dos Santos gave this reason for making a long trip from Brazil, in which she passed through Mexico, then Dallas, making the last leg of the journey to Florida in a van: “I came to join my husband.”

After living so far apart for six months, they were reunited at a gas station in Fort Myers. Eventually, she found work at a day care, earning about $800 a month, but quit the job when she found out she was about to have her first child.

“I liked the life here before everything happened with Bryan,” Ramos Dos Santos said. What was most important was that they had a way to support a family here and were still able to send money to their family in Brazil on occasion, as she did the week before Bryan was kidnapped.

Things were different in the part of Brazil where she grew up, she said, a small town of about 15,000 people. “It’s a poor place. They have no jobs. Just sugar cane. That’s what Jurandir did. He spent the whole day to earn $5, working from morning to evening. A very small town,” she said.

Franca, the Naples minister who has visited Bryan’s parents regularly since the kidnapping and now describes them as friends, has heard the negative comments about the couple. She has heard people suggest that because they came here illegally and dealt with human smugglers, the kidnapping was something they may have brought on themselves.

“When I hear that, I feel sick,” Franca said.

For Bryan’s mother, her being an immigrant has nothing to do with the situation. “What I want people to understand is that Bryan is a human being,” she said.

“I spend the day waiting for the baby. There is no sense doing anything else,” Ramos Dos Santos said.

Sometimes she spends the mornings crying. Sometimes she pulls out Bryan’s clothes, just to look at them. Other times, investigators — usually Portuguese-speaking officers with the FBI — come to ask her questions, as she said they did twice this past week. Usually they ask if there have been any calls from people they knew in Brazil or from the smugglers.

There haven’t been, she said. She still thinks “a crazy woman” has Bryan.

Mostly, she feels very alone right now, though many people have tried to help, she said. Neither Ramos Dos Santos nor Gomes Costa are working, and friends, mostly other Brazilians in the area, are helping them get by. Still, she feels set aside.

“Christmas was very strange this year. I went to church, but I felt like God had abandoned me,” she said.

Like Gomes Costa, every day she wakes up hoping to see Bryan by evening. When he comes home, he will have several Christmas presents waiting for him: toys, a crib, a plate, a spoon.

Their son was very much wanted when he first came into their lives, Gomes Costa said, adding he was excited for the boy’s future: here he could study and learn English.

But even more, they want him back in their lives. Now, Gomes Costa’s plans are for what he would do if Bryan was brought home to him tomorrow.

“Oh, we’d have a party. I’d call all my friends and invite all of them to come. I would thank God for that. I hope that day will come soon.”

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2006/dec/31/new_year_and_nothing_new_monthold_case_missing_bab/?local_news

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Cops seek abducted baby

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:47

Cops seek abducted baby


Posted January 2, 2007


Naples -- It has been a month since little Bryan Dos Santos Gomes was snatched from his mother at knifepoint, and police are still looking for a break in the case.

A task force has run down more than 400 leads in the search for the infant, now a little more than 2 months old, Fort Myers police spokesman Shelly Flynn said.

She described the hunt for the baby as "pretty much status quo."

Bryan has now been gone from his parents longer than he was with them.

Bryan was taken from his mother at knifepoint Dec. 1 by a woman in an SUV who gave them a ride. Investigators said the baby might have been taken because his parents failed to pay human smugglers.

Bryan's parents were brought into the United States illegally from Brazil, but failed to pay the smugglers' entire fee, police said. The parents have disputed this theory.

Gary Taylor and Mark Andrews of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Information from The Associated Press also was used.

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/state/orl-cfbriefs02_907jan02,0,5808766.story?coll=orl-news-headlines-state

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Mother of missing child takes polygraph

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:47


Mother of missing child takes polygraph

FORT MYERS, Fla., Jan. 3 (UPI) -- The mother of a kidnapped infant says Fort Myers, Fla., police have repeatedly accused her of selling her son.

Speaking through a translator, Maria Fatima Dos Santos told the Fort Myers News-Press that she has been given a lie detector test but was not told the results.

Dos Santos says her 28-day-old son was kidnapped by a knife wielding woman on Dec. 1st.

Last month, Fort Myers Police Chief Hilton Daniels said the baby was taken by human smugglers because Dos Santos had not repaid a debt. In a statement last Friday, a department spokeswoman said police believe the abduction "may have" a human smuggling aspect, the newspaper said.

http://www.dailyindia.com/show/99382.php/Mother-of-missing-child-takes-polygraph

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Kidnapping Questions

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:48

Kidnapping Questions


(Fort Myers, FL) -- The Fort Myers Police Department is telling Fox 4 that Baby Bryan’s parents and the witness to the kidnapping have all been given a lie detector test, which is routine in kidnapping cases. Police aren’t sharing the results of the test with Fox 4 or the parents. However, the parents say police told them there’s something wrong with their stories. The parents strongly deny selling their baby or knowing about anybody selling their baby. According to police, the pace of the investigation has changed because they’re not getting as many tips as they were before.

POSTED BY: TYISHA FERNANDES, REPORTER
tfernandes@fox4now.com

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

10:01:56 PM

http://www.fox4florida.com/NewsArticle/tabid/1149/xmid/8403/Default.aspx

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Police chaplain pushes for Spanish campaign to find Baby Bryan

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:49

Police chaplain pushes for Spanish campaign to find Baby Bryan


Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2007



Originally published — 8:32 a.m., January 10, 2007
Updated — 1:11 p.m., January 10, 2007

Leads in the case of missing infant Bryan Dos Santos Gomes have been coming in to police less frequently, and one Fort Myers minister wants to turn that around.

Israel Suarez, the director of a Fort Myers Nations Association, has tried to help in the search for Bryan before by passing out flyers depicting a sketch of the Hispanic woman police describe as the suspect in the kidnapping. He has organized prayer vigils and spent time listening to the story the baby’s mother, Maria de Fatima Ramos Dos Santos, tells of the Dec. 1 kidnapping.

And in the five weeks her baby has been missing, Suarez said, the story she has told him has remained the same, leading him to conclude Bryan may still be in the area, possibly being raised by a woman who took him as her own child.

“That’s my view. It might be wrong,” Suarez said.

But with his hope the baby is still in the area, he appealed specifically to Spanish-language media at a press conference this morning to keep the image of the suspect and the missing baby prominent, and to encourage people to come to police with any information they might have.

His hope, he said, is the woman who took Bryan will come to understand the agony she is causing his parents and decide to return him.

Initially, police described the kidnapping as something done by a desparate woman who wanted a child to call her own at any cost. But mid-December, police stopped saying that.

After learning about the baby’s parents’ debt to human smugglers who guided them to Florida from Brazil, police described the debt as a likely motive for the kidnapping.

Delbert Fair, a representative from the Fort Myers Police Department — the lead law enforcement agency in the search for Bryan — sat next to Suarez at the conference.

Fair said police are looking at all angles in the investigation and did not directly answer questions about whether police still believe an unpaid debt to human smugglers was behind the kidnapping.

Suarez, who is a chaplain for the police department, said he sees daily how hard the department is working.

But with his renewed requests for information from the community — especially from the area’s Hispanic community — Suarez said several times said no one should be afraid of coming forward with information.

The most prominent person to come to police in the investagation, a Brazilian immigrant police wanted to question, Valter Coehlo, ended up in the custody of Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials after contacting police in December. Before going to police, the Lehigh Acres resident had been under a deportation order for over a year.

But that doesn’t mean other people who might have information in the case shouldn’t do so, even if they have existing immigration issues, Fair said.

“I think it was a misunderstood issue,” he said of Coelho’s deportation.

He did not explain why it was misunderstood. “There was a lot more information to that case than we can disclose,” Fair said, adding Coelho was “not your average individual.”

At the time Coehlo came forward, police were describing him as a “known enforcer in a human smuggling ring.”

For those with concerns about talking to police for any reason, Fair said, it is possible to give information to police and remain anonymous — and even to collect the $21,000 reward being offered for information that helps lead to Bryan’s return.


Fair noted that many of the tips that have come to police since the Dec. 1 kidnapping have come from people who are in the country illegally.

Anyone with information about the baby, Bryan Dos Santos Gomes, who is now a little over 2 months old, is asked to contact the Fort Myers Police Department at (239) 334-4155, or to call 911 or a toll-free number, 1-877-667-1296, set up specifically for this case. Those uncomfortable calling the police can contact Rev. Israel Suarez, executive director of the Nations Association, at (239) 332-7575.

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2007/jan/10/reverand_pushes_stronger_spanish_campaign_find_bab/?latest

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Hispanic Help for Baby Bryan

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:50

Hispanic Help for Baby Bryan


(Fort Myers, FL) - The hispanic community mobilizes to bring baby Bryan back to his family. Bryan Dossantos Gomes was only one-month-old when police say a woman kidnapped him by knife point in early December. With few leads now, baby Bryan's mother is speaking out more than ever and community leaders are taking action. maria Dossantos believes her baby in the area and she begs the community for help.

Police chaplain Reverend Israel Suarez sat by Maria's side after he called a press conference. Since police say the woman who stole baby Bryan is hispanic, Suarez wants Spanish-speaking stations to hit the community hard, hoping to help police make a break in a case that's cooled off a bit. When asked if Suarez is turning to the media because he feels Fort Myers Police are not doing enough, he said, "No, I don't. No, I don't. You don't see what I see when I go downtown. The police department is so desperate."

Fort Myers police still insist immigration is not their focus, saying they are not looking to deport anyone.

POSTED BY: ERICA PITZI, REPORTER
epitzi@fox4now.com

Wednesday, January 10, 2007
5:50:54 PM

http://www.wftx4.com/NewsArticle/tabid/1149/xmid/8587/Default.aspx

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Odds don't favor Bryan's return

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:51

Odds don't favor Bryan's return



By ED JOHNSON
ejohnson@news-press.com

Originally posted on January 15, 2007


There were 12 infant abductions nationwide in 2006. Only Bryan Dos Santos Gomes has not been found.

The hunt for the kidnapped infant is more than a month old. Statistically, the chances of finding the little boy have substantially diminished.

The investigative landscape has changed considerably, said John Rabun, executive vice president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va.

Rabun's associates have been in Fort Myers helping with the investigation. The initial confidence in a quick recovery of the infant is now gone, he said.

"You keep hoping, and you keep working," he said, "but we've reached that point where the numbers are working against us."

Fort Myers police Chief Hilton Daniels has been more upbeat, expressing confidence that police will unravel the mystery. Police have said little about their progress, but there is evidence that field work continues.

Last week, detectives arrested a woman in connection with an 11-year-old murder after initially checking her out when someone called to say she matched the kidnapper's composite drawing.

Detectives are satisfied she was not involved in the Dec. 1 kidnapping, police said. In addition, Daniels has said there is forensic evidence in the case. He would not specify what that evidence is.

There are still almost daily meetings at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to discuss the case, said Shelly Flynn, a Fort Myers police spokeswoman. But the full-time commitment of manpower has diminished. At one time, police said the task force was a combination of more than 50 city, state and federal investigators. The city now has a detective sergeant, two detectives and a uniformed officer assigned full time to the hunt. They are supplemented by two non-sworn support personnel, Maureen Buice, a Fort Myers police spokeswoman, has said.

She would not comment on the assignment of personnel from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or federal agencies, beyond saying their numbers ebb and flow depending on investigative needs.

Chances of finding abducted infant less than 45 percent Perhaps grim support for Rabun's assessment.

The numbers he talks about are the statistics his group keeps on child abductions. After a month, the chance of a successful recovery drops to about 45 percent, he said. As time passes, he said, the numbers become more discouraging.

"That doesn't mean you stop looking," he said. "We've had successful recoveries nine months later."

But statistically, the odds are now against the police, he said.

Bryan's mother, Maria Ramos Dos Santos, 23, reported Bryan kidnapped at knifepoint on Dec. 1 after she and a friend, Janice Duarte, 23, got into a woman's SUV to give her directions to the Pine Manor neighborhood.

Since that time, she has criticized the police for a lack of progress. She also said she was given a lie detector test.

The police confirm that they've given lie detector tests to Dos Santos, Duarte and the baby's father, Jurandir Gomes Costa, 26.

Police won't say how they did, but Dos Santos said they told her there were "problems" with her answers to some of the questions. She also said police accused her of selling Bryan and inventing the kidnap story.

Both Dos Santos and Duarte said the examiner did not speak their native Portuguese and did the test through a translator. Sometimes a necessary expedient, but not the preferred method, said Charlie Mesloh, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Florida Gulf Coast University and former polygraph operator.

"Using a translator shouldn't make a difference," he added. "As long as the translator translates the exact questions the examiner is asking."

Mesloh said Dos Santos' reference to problems could mean the test results were either inconclusive or deceptive.

"Polygraphs are very good at specific issue testing like in this type of case," he said. "An inconclusive or deceptive result would raise questions."

The police would not comment.

http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2007701150329

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Detectives release new info about vehicle for missing Baby Bryan

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:51

Detectives release new info about vehicle for missing Baby Bryan


By Daily News staff

Friday, January 26, 2007

Fort Myers Police now believe the suspect in the Baby Bryan case may have driven a 1998 to 2003 black, 2 door Ford Explorer Sport Edition.

Officers released the new information this morning and were passing out fliers produced in Portuguese, Spanish and English.

The infant’s mother and another woman and her child got into the woman’s car to help her find a location in Fort Myers.

After finding the location, the woman forced one mother and child out of the car and took off with Baby Bryan and his mother.

The woman drove south land when she reached Three Oaks Parkway in Estero, she pulled a knife and forced Baby Bryan’s mother from the car.

Baby Bryan’s mother, Maria De Fatima Ramos Dos Santos, 23

and father, Jurandir Gomes Costa, 26, are immigrants from Brazil.

Police had focused much of their investigation on human trafficking, because the couple paid smugglers to bring them to the country.

The suspect is a heavyset 28-30-year-old white/Hispanic woman with long-straight black hair. She is about 5 feet, 4 inches tall.

Check back with the Bonita Daily News for updates.

http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2007/jan/26/detectives_release_new_info_about_vehicle_missing_/?latest

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Updated description in Fort Myers baby abduction

Post  milly on Sun 30 Oct - 22:52

Updated description in Fort Myers baby abduction


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fort Myers police said they have a better description of the SUV driven by the woman who kidnapped Bryan Dos Santos Gomes last month.

Dos Santos was taken at knifepoint from his mother after she and a friend got into the kidnapper's SUV to give the woman directions.

Police believe a human smuggler may have kidnapped the child because his parents owed them money. But the parents said they don't believe that's the case.

The vehicle is described as a 1998-2003 black Ford Explorer, a sport model with two doors. It's believed to have peeling window tint.

The kidnapper is described as a 25-30-year-old heavyset Spanish-speaking woman, about 5-foot-3 with dark hair pulled into a bun.

If you have any information about the case call 9-1-1.

http://www.baynews9.com/content/36/2007/1/28/218974.html?title=Updated+description+in+Fort+Myers+baby+abduction

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