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Sandy boy, babysitter return safe from Colombia

Police officer says kidnapping charges aren't likely
by: contributed photo, Allen Aresti Ventura Gomez

The four-year-old Sandy boy who was allegedly kidnapped and taken to South America was reunited safely with his mother at Portland International Airport late Tuesday night.

Allen Aresti Ventura Gomez arrived home 23 days after he left home with a family friend for what was supposed to have been a one-week trip to Colombia.

The pair left for Columbia on Nov. 12, and Gomez's mother said her son was due to return Nov. 18. She contacted the Sandy Police Department on Tuesday, Nov. 28, after the family friend - a woman in her 30s described as the boy's 'close aunt' and babysitter - reportedly told her that she would not return to the United States with the child.

Sandy police took a missing persons report and subsequently entered Gomez into the national missing child database. Local law enforcement enlisted the help of the FBI, which had agents in Portland and in Bogotá, Colombia, investigating the international case.

An agent working in Bogotá coordinated the investigation in Colombia, working with the U.S. State Department on the scene as well as Colombian law enforcement authorities. Police were able to find Gomez and the woman and negotiate their return to the U.S.

At the airport, Gomez appeared to be happy, healthy and energetic, Sandy Police Officer Jason Coates said.

'He seemed pretty much out of it,' Coates said. 'I don't think he really knew what was going on. He seemed happy when he got off the plane and happy when he saw his mom.'

The 'aunt,' whose name has not been released, voluntarily returned to Portland with Gomez and spoke with Coates and an FBI agent upon her arrival. She was not arrested or charged with any crime.

'She didn't admit to doing anything wrong,' Coates said. 'It's looking more like there was a little confusion about when they were going to come home.'

Coates said the investigation is over and that the case will now be forwarded to the Clackamas County District Attorney's Office. 'They'll decide whether to move forward on charges,' he said. 'But I don't think that's going to happen.' He said the matter could quickly turn into a debate of the mother's word against the 'aunt's.'

Without any kind of written trip itinerary or agreement, Coates said, 'I don't know if we'll ever know (what happened). But it's good that (Gomez) is home and it all worked out.'