Two young Burbank children who were allegedly abducted in 2013 by their mother and taken to Mexico, were reunited with their respective fathers last week following their return to the U.S.
Burbank police launched a missing persons investigation in June 2013 after the kids, ages 4 and 2 at the time, were reported missing. Police say the pair were taken to Mexico by their mother Lucy Vega, 35, without their fathers’ knowledge.
“The fathers of the abducted children advised they were not aware [Vega] would be taking the children out of the area,” Burbank police Division Chief Mike Dudlo said. “Both fathers had parental rights and visitation privileges with their respective children at the time of the offense. Neither father gave Vega permission to remove their children out of the area, state or the country.”
According to police, Vega was in a custody battle with one of the children's fathers and separated from the other when she fled the area.
Early in the investigation, Burbank police tracked Vega to Waukegan, Illinois where police say she sold her Honda Odyssey minivan for cash and purchased bus tickets to Laredo, Texas. Investigators determined she was bound for Mexico with the boys in tow.
In July 2013, a Cook County judge issued two arrest warrants for Vega for the offense of child abduction. The FBI later obtained an unlawful flight to avoid prosecution warrant for her arrest.
In March, Burbank police working with the FBI, Interpol and Mexican authorities located Vega and the children living in Mexico.
“Burbank Investigators made contact with the offender and arrangements were made for her to return to the United States and turn herself in,” Dudlo said.
Vega and the children returned to Chicago by air last week. “Vega was met by Burbank Police Department investigators and agents from the FBI at O’Hare where she was placed into custody,” Dudlo said. “The children have since been reunited with the respective fathers and are in good health.”
Vega has been charged with two felony counts of child abduction.
Vega appeared before Cook County Judge Peter Felice at the Bridgeview Courthouse on May 26 where bail was set at $530,000. She is currently in custody at Cook County Jail and is scheduled to appear in court again June 17.
Dudlo praised the tireless work of Burbank investigators and especially the effort of Detective Robert Michelson, one of the department’s school resource officers, for the number of hours he logged working the case.
“Our Investigators worked diligently on this case for two years. Detective Michelson put in many man-hours on this case, many were on his own time. As a school resource officer, he has many duties and has a very busy schedule with Burbank School District 111. Detective Michelson donated much of his personal time to this case and worked with many agencies in trying to locate the offender and her children,” Dudlo said.
Michelson worked with the FBI, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Interpol and the United States Department of State to bring the children home.
Dudlo said, “Detective Michelson and these agencies worked hard to reunite the children with their fathers and that goal was ultimately achieved.”