Three missing Madera children found safe, mother arrested

MADERA, Calif.

The Children were found more than 200 miles away in the city of Santa Rosa late Tuesday afternoon. They were with their mother, Thea Deanda-Sanchez, who is not supposed to have custody of them. Police say she will be facing child abduction charges.

She was booked into Madera County Jail Tuesday night. Her children are with Child Protective Services in Sonoma County and will eventually be transported back to their home in Madera.

Shant Sheklanian, a detective with the Madera Police Department, says they've always believed the children were in trouble. But because they were not in eminent danger, they did not meet the criteria to issue an amber alert.

"This has been the priority of our department," Sheklanian said.

Police say Deanda-Sanchez took her children, a 10-year-old-girl,a 6-year-old girl, and a 9-year-old boy , from school on Oct. 31. She took them to Santa Rosa with the help of a man. Police have not released that man's identity but say he is Deanda-Sanchez's friend, an ex-convict and former gang-member.

Sheklanian says they were all staying with the man's relatives who live in the mobile home. Those relatives were kept in the dark about the situation.

"When they arrived, the night of Halloween the night of the abduction they were advised that they were looking for a job that they would only be there a couple of nights," Sheklanian said. "They were completely unaware that the children were missing and he was a fugitive. They were cooperative and very appalled when they learned the truth of the incident."

Sheklanian says they were able to trace Deanda-Sanchez's cell phone to the mobile home. With the help of the Santa Rosa Police Department, they surrounded the mobile home and the suspects gave up peacefully.

"The children are safe," Sheklanian said. "They appear to be fed well and clothed. They don't seem to be hurt in any way. They didn't want to leave their mothers side but they were turned over to CPS and will be reunited with their lawful custodians."

Deanda-Sanchez's friend is in Sonoma County Jail for a weapons charge. Officers say he will also be charged in this case.

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