POPE COUNTY, Minn. (WCCO) - A Big Lake man is accused of kidnapping a 2-year-old boy last Thursday, which sparked an AMBER alert in west-central Minnesota.
The toddler was found safe late that evening, and Victor Ramirez Alvarez, 22, was taken into custody. He is charged with kidnapping and depriving a parent of parental rights by concealing a minor child from the child's parents.
The complaint, signed on Friday, states that Alvarez was "very fond" of the boy and had tried to unsuccessfully court the victim's mother.
"He would frequently give them rides, hug her son, buy him things and take photos with him," the complaint said.
The complaint said that Alvarez had visited the home in the past and knew the layout, including where the child's bedroom was located. The child was reported missing around 4:30 a.m. Thursday.
During the course of the investigation, a manager at a restaurant provided a tip that an employee, identified as Alvarez, was at the restaurant in the evening with a child that looked like the child in the AMBER alert, according to the complaint. The manager provided Alvarez's phone number.
Later at 11:15 p.m., Alvarez was stopped while driving and arrested, but the child was not with him. He later told police he "made a mistake" and took the child, and later left the child inside the garage of a residence of someone he knew, but they weren't home, according to the complaint.
The residents of the home told police that they discovered the child in a booster-style car seat in their garage, and no one alerted them of the child's presence there.
Alvarez could face up to 20 years in prison on the kidnapping charge. His first court appearance was Monday. His bail has been set at $500,000 with conditions or $1 million without.
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