ALVIN, Texas – A 13-year-old girl was returned safely home early Wednesday and the man who kidnapped her was later arrested at his job in north Houston, according to the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office.
Jose Angel Ponce, 38, was charged with aggravated kidnapping and enticing a child with the intent to commit a felony.
Elizabeth Catherine Smith’s grandmother reported her missing Monday after she disappeared from her family’s home. The grandmother found a note that said, “Going to Cali, love you.”
Catherine later called her aunt and left a message that said she was in Cleveland with two guys and they were headed to California. They reportedly got a motel room for the night.
Phone records led authorities to Ponce, and an Amber Alert was issued the following day.
According to investigators, Ponce and Catherine may have met online through social media. Text messages between the two were sent the night before she disappeared.
It was not clear what happened while Catherine was with Ponce, but hours after the alert was issued, he dropped her off down the street from her aunt’s house around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.
”We appreciate everyone’s help, but we have no further comment at this time,” the aunt told KHOU 11 News.
Ponce was booked into the Brazoria County Detention Center and his bond was set at $350,000.