Friday, February 6, 2009
Search for Pearland woman pondered.
Texas EquuSearch officials backed off a plan of mounting a massive search Thursday for a woman abducted at gunpoint in a Pearland shopping center parking lot Monday.
"There are literally thousands of different areas where we could search," said Tim Miller, founder of the search agency.
He and others surveyed the areas between where Susana De Jesus was kidnapped to an automated teller machine in south Houston where her card was used to withdraw cash about an hour later and to another parking lot where her car was found early Tuesday. The distance between each point is roughly 11 miles.
"There are lots of places with fresh tire tracks and places of concealment and we just can't cover that big of an area," Miller said this afternoon.
When they get an indication of a smaller area, he said, then the search will begin.
De Jesus, 37, was forced into her car Monday night as she left her job at a clothing store in a shopping center on Smith Ranch Road, just east of Texas 288 near Pearland.
A security camera snapped a photo later that night of a masked man in the driver's seat of her black 2008 Cadillac at an automated teller machine outside a bank at 3636 Old Spanish Trail in Houston. He used De Jesus' card to withdraw cash.
It was not clear whether De Jesus was still in the car when the photo was taken.
Houston police found the Cadillac early Tuesday at an apartment complex in the 6000 block of West Airport.
Miller, who founded Texas EquuSearch after the 1984 abduction and murder of his daughter, has acknowledged that the prospects for finding De Jesus alive are not encouraging.
"It's pretty hard to think like these people think," he said, referring to the gunman who abducted De Jesus and the accomplice who was in another vehicle.
As police on Wednesday released the ATM photo, they said they don’t know why De Jesus was targeted.
The 37-year-old southeast Houston resident was walking with a co-worker when she was abducted about 9:15 p.m. Monday. The two were leaving their jobs at Catherines Plus Sizes.
The co-worker, whose name has not been disclosed, told investigators the abductor drove the Cadillac out of the shopping center parking lot with another vehicle following.
The ATM where the man was photographed is about 11 miles from the store and another 11 miles from where the car was found.
Brazoria County sheriff’s Capt. Chris Kincheloe said investigators are not sure whether the abduction has any connection to a recent series of home-invasion robberies in Pearland and other communities in the area. Each of the crimes has been different, he said.
The victim’s younger sister, Guilly Puente, said De Jesus never expressed any fear of leaving the shop after closing it and didn’t seem to have any enemies. “We don’t know who these people could be,” she said.
“Our mother isn’t taking this very well,” Puente said.
Puente and a friend distributed fliers at the shopping center Wednesday afternoon. She described her older sister as a kind, friendly person who is devoted to her two Chihuahuas and loves to cook for her family.
De Jesus’ 38-year-old husband, Gregorio, was killed on May 2 when his Corvette crashed into a concrete bridge support and burst into flames on the Gulf Freeway.
Kincheloe said De Jesus' co-worker waited about two hours after the abduction before calling police.
“Each person reacts differently to these things,” Kincheloe said, adding that the co-worker was “very shocked and scared” by the incident.
“She is cooperating with us fully” and is not a suspect, he said.
Store spokeswoman Gyle Coolick said De Jesus had been assistant manager since November 2007. “We are agonizing for her safe return,” Coolick said.
Miller said single women driving impressive new cars — such as De Jesus’ Cadillac — sometimes become targets.
“I don’t believe this was just random,” he said of the kidnapping. “I would anticipate he’d seen her over a few days or few weeks.”
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office at 281-756-2392, or investigator Wade Nichols at 281-756-2220.
Brazoria County Crime Stoppers also is taking anonymous tips at 800-460-2222