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Rudy Gutierrez Charged With Bridgeview Car Theft, Kidnapping Of 4-Year-Old Liam Barbarasa

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A 28-year-old man has been charged with kidnapping, after police say he stole a minivan with a four-year-old boy inside in southwest suburban Bridgeview on Monday.

Rudy Gutierrez, of Lyons, is due in bond court in Bridgeview on Wednesday to face charges of aggravated kidnapping, vehicular invasion, possession of a stolen motor vehicle, and unlawful use of a credit card.

Rudy Gutierrez
Rudy Gutierrez is charged with aggravated kidnapping after Bridgeview police said he stole a running minivan with a 4-year-old boy inside. (Source: Bridgeview Police)

Bridgeview Police said Gutierrez was arrested after eyewitnesses identified him as the man who stole a running minivan outside the 7-Eleven gas station at 79th Street and Roberts Road on Monday evening. Four-year-old Liam Barbarasa was inside the vehicle at the time, while his father was inside the 7-Eleven to order a pizza.

Police said the van was spotted a couple hours later near Marquette Park on Chicago's Southwest Side. The vehicle was found around 10 p.m. Monday several miles away at Pulaski Road and Belle Plaine Avenue. Liam was inside and was taken to Swedish Hospital to be checked out, police said.

At a news conference before Liam was found, his mother, Maria Barbarasa, had said she would not look to have the auto thief charged or prosecuted if Liam were brought back safely.

Liam Barbarasa
(Credit: Illinois State Police)

Maria Barbarasa said Liam was playing with his sister just an hour earlier on toboggan sleds, and the 2-year-old sister was at home waiting for him Monday night.

She said Liam loves cars and trains and has a lot of energy, and loves to be outside.

"He's a sweet, sweet boy. He's very shy, so he's scared of strangers; people he doesn't know. So I'm praying, praying that he's in the car, safe sleeping, and that I'll see him very soon. I have no ill feelings. I know life is hard, and I really, really – whatever happened happened, I don't care I just need my boy back," Maria Barbarasa said. "I know you probably didn't realize that he was in there, and that's OK."

Police said investigators quickly focused on Gutierrez as the suspect in Liam's kidnapping, based on information from eyewitnesses who said he often hung around the area panhandling.

Gutierrez was on parole at the time, and a parole violation warrant was issued for his arrest. He is due to appear in bond court at 9 a.m. at the Bridgeview Courthouse.

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