Texas woman Jenna Leigh Roark kidnapped migrant baby, held him for $8K ransom for 5 months: feds

0
21
Texas woman Jenna Leigh Roark kidnapped migrant baby, held him for $8K ransom for 5 months: feds

A Texas woman has been accused of offering a Honduran migrant a ride before snatching her baby and then holding him for ransom for five months, a recently unsealed federal complaint says.

Jenna Leigh Roark, 45, was charged with smuggling a person and aggravated kidnapping over the alleged abduction scheme after cops inadvertently found her with the unidentified 18-month-old child during a traffic stop in El Paso last month.

The bizarre case unfolded when the Texas Department of Public Safety started investigating the child’s identity after Roark and her two daughters gave conflicting information about the boy, according to the complaint.

Roark’s 15-year-old daughter, who was in the car at the time of the traffic stop, allegedly told authorities that the boy’s name was Aiden Smith and that he was born on May 19, 2021.

Roark had claimed the boy’s biological mother was her older daughter. But when questioned by authorities, Roark’s eldest daughter said the boy’s birth date was May 19, 2020 — and that her fiancée was actually the child’s biological mother.

The boy, who authorities described as being in “poor health,” was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.

“Due to conflicting stories and not being able to identify the child, Child Protective Services was called to take possession of the child and has been in their custody since that date,” the complaint says.

Three undocumented migrants were also found in the backseat of Roark’s car during the traffic stop, according to the complaint. Roark was subsequently taken into custody on state human smuggling charges.

Jenna Leigh Roark, 45, was charged with smuggling a person and aggravated kidnapping after cops found her with the 18-month-old migrant child last month.
Jenna Leigh Roark, 45, was charged with smuggling a person and aggravated kidnapping after cops found her with the 18-month-old migrant child last month.
El Paso Sheriff’s Office

As the investigation developed, the FBI was contacted on Sept. 26 by cops in St. Petersburg, Florida who said a migrant woman believed her child was being “held for ransom and in danger” somewhere in El Paso.

The migrant mom alleged a woman had taken her son after they crossed the US border in May. She claimed she’d asked a woman for directions to the nearest Greyhound bus stop in El Paso and the woman offered her a ride, the complaint says.

En route to the bus station, the mother said the woman then told her she was going to keep her son but gave her a phone number so they could remain in contact.

The woman subsequently sent the mom videos and photos of her son and would call two to three times a week.

But the woman later informed the migrant mother that she had to fork up $8,000 if she wanted her son back, according to the complaint. She later allegedly dropped the price to $5,800.

Cops in Florida gave the FBI the phone number the migrant mom had been using to contact her son’s alleged kidnapper — and agents later traced it to a “Jenna L. Roark.”

When the FBI contacted the Texas Department of Public Safety for any information on Roark, they were informed of her arrest a week earlier and that the boy had been taken into protective custody.

FBI agents showed the migrant mom pictures of the boy and she confirmed it was her son, according to the complaint.

Confronted with the allegations, Roark had claimed to agents that her “husband was in trouble with the mafia in Juarez known as La Empresa,” the complaint says.

She claimed the boy had been sent to her “was sent to her by a man in Mexico” and that she only knew him as “Richard.”

Roark told agents that she was supposed to care for the boy until the migrant mom coughed over the cash, the complaint says.

“Roark was instructed that she could not take anyone’s word but Richard’s that payment for the child was made,” the complaint added. “Once payment was made, the Son could be released.”

Roark, who was taken into custody on charges of smuggling a person and aggravated kidnapping, faces life in prison if convicted.

Source link