SAN JOSE, Calif. (CBS/AP/KPIX) California authorities have issued a statewide Amber Alert for 4-year-old Juliani Cardenas who was allegedly snatched from his grandmother's arms by his mother's ex-boyfriend Tuesday.
The suspect, Jose Esteban Rodriguez, 27, pulled into the driveway of a Patterson home around 4:12 p.m. Tuesday and abducted the Juliani while he was with his grandmother in the garage, say police.
Since the abduction, police have been searching search for the young boy and his alleged captor. On Thursday, divers returned to a canal where witnesses told authorities that they saw a car going into the canal Tuesday evening that fit the description of the silver Toyota Corolla believed to be used in the abduction, said Stanislaus County sheriff's spokesman Royjindar Singh.
The Toyota Corolla was not found, but the search led investigators to recover a 1996 Infiniti that was stolen in Modesto in 2007. Investigators also found "fresh tire tracks" leading into the canal, said Singh, but could not determine what type of vehicle the tracks came from.
Authorities do not have a possible motive for the abduction, they are concerned for the young child's safety.
"The suspect has an extensive criminal history," Singh said. "The boy could be in danger."
Rodriguez was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 1999, according to Singh. He also has been arrested on suspicion of assault and battery and unlawful sexual intercourse, reports CBS affiliate KPIX.
Dozens of community members gathered at Juliani's home late Wednesday evening to pray for his safe return and support his family members, reports KPIX.
Rodriguez is described as a Hispanic man, 5-feet-9-inches tall and 180 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a white and black shirt, checkered shorts, and a beanie.
He was last seen driving a silver Toyota Corolla with license plate number 6HBW445. The vehicle had a "donut" spare tire on the front passenger side, Singh said.
Singh said Juliani was in dark sweat pants, a light blue fleece sweater and black Spider Man shoes with lights on them. He is described as a Hispanic boy, 3-feet-6-inches tall and 40 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.
Authorities initially believed Rodriguez could be heading to San Jose, where he has family. But they now say he has family throughout California, including in the Central Valley, and could be anywhere in the state.
Anyone with information about the pair is asked to call the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department at 209-380-6015.