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Former Group Home Worker Accused Of Running Off With Teenage Girl To Mexico

CAMARILLO ( — Police say a woman who worked at a children's group home in Camarillo is in custody after twice running away with teenage girl who lived at the home.

Denisse Lisbeth Romero, 27, was arrested Monday after Ventura County Sheriff's investigators found her hiding in the closet of a family members' home in the 1900 block of Ginger Street in Oxnard, following an investigation that spanned several states and into Mexico, where the teenage victim was previously rescued, authorities said.

Romero, who is being held on $250,000 bail, faces charges of child stealing and sexual assault of a minor. She is scheduled to make her next court appearance on Jan. 6.

Investigators say Romero was working as a staff member in August at the Camarillo Children's Learning Center, where the 16-year-old victim was a resident. Romero and the girl began a romantic relationship, sheriff's officials said, leading to the girl running away from the home and Romero quitting the same day.

Investigators found evidence the pair left California and ended up in Oklahoma City, Okla., where they were nearly captured. They were then found in Texas, where the girl was taken into custody by the San Antonio Police Department. Investigators say evidence suggested Romero fled to Mexico.

The girl was returned to another group home in late August, but ran away the day after she arrived, authorities said. According to investigators, evidence suggested the girl ran away to Mexico, where she reunited with Romero. The pair apparently drove around Mexico and eventually moved into an apartment together in Ensenada.

Ventura County sheriff's investigators contacted the FBI, who contacted members with the Mexican government. Mexican authorities located Romero and the girl, who was taken into protective custody, but Romero remained free because there was no formal extradition agreement in place, sheriff's officials said.

The girl was returned to her legal guardian on Dec. 3.

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