HEIGHT: 3′ (91 cm)
WEIGHT: 13 lbs (6 kg)
BIRTHMARK: Upper right arm – heart shape
WEARING: White jumper
Jacqueline was last seen in a white baby carrier with green/white striped cushion at a swap meet. Her mom left Jacqueline outside of a porta-potty while she assisted Jacqueline’s sister.
MISSING SINCE: May 6, 2001
MISSING FROM: Avondale, Arizona
Avondale Police Department 623-333-7001
SILENT WITNESS 480-WITNESS (948-6377)
Girl taken in ’01 from swap meet is still missing
Aug. 19, 2005 12:00 AM
The headline in the May 7, 2001, edition of The Arizona Republic read: “Police hunt for missing infant.”
The story began: A 3-month-old girl was kidnapped after her mother left her outside a portable bathroom at an Avondale swap meet Sunday morning, police said.
The mother . . . placed the baby, wearing a white outfit, in a carrier outside the bathroom because she was helping an older daughter inside and there wasn’t enough room for all three, she told police.
“I just want my baby back,” the tearful mother said in television interviews.
The mother and family members searched the area for several minutes before calling police about 11:20 a.m.
Avondale police arrived and closed off the area. They spent hours searching the vicinity, looking in cars and interviewing as many potential witnesses as possible.
When and where
Jacqueline, the daughter of Jorge Vasquez, now 25, and his wife, Olivia Casteñada, now 22, was born Jan. 14, 2001. She was nearly 4 months old when she was abducted May 6, 2001, at a swap meet near 123rd Avenue and Buckeye Road.
Casteñada’s husband dropped off her and their two daughters, Nayeli, then 2, and Jacqueline at the swap meet.
The kidnapping took place when Casteñada stepped into a portable toilet to assist Nayeli. When she stepped back outside, after just a moment, Jacqueline, who was in a baby carrier with a green and white striped cushion, was gone. Casteñada scrambled through the swap meet, frantic to find her baby. Police arrived, but the search was fruitless.
Witnesses said there was a woman at the swap meet who had been showing undue attention to children, police said.
Some experts believe that, based on the evidence, Jacqueline most likely wasn’t harmed but was grabbed by a woman who was desperate for a child of her own to raise.
The best clue for identifying Jacqueline is a heart-shaped birthmark on her upper right arm, according to police.
Now, more than four years later, Avondale police remain stumped in solving the case. They hope that an age-progression composite of Jacqueline, prepared by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, will bring new leads. It shows what the missing girl may look like at 4 years old.
Officer Amy McGhee, a spokeswoman for the Avondale Police Department.
What bothers police most
“It’s so frustrating not being able to find the little girl, or to know what happened,” McGhee said. “I think that anybody, especially the parents, would feel this way.”
New technology’s role
McGhee said the case is most likely to be solved through gumshoe techniques rather than science. However, once a girl is found, DNA analysis most likely will be used to prove a match to the parents, she said.
How you can help
Call Avondale police at (623) 478-3660, or call the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-843-5678.
– Brent Whiting
The Arizona Republic is teaming with Valley law enforcement investigators to highlight a cold case every week. The hope is that readers with information will call or e-mail police or Silent Witness (1-800-343-TIPS) and help solve a crime.