LCSO: Alleged kidnapper could face federal charges

Abel Fajardo

A man accused of kidnapping a Liberty County woman may be facing federal charges for allegedly transporting his hostage across state lines, authorities say. The kidnapping suspect, Abel Fajardo, was arrested in the Chicago area in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day.

Fajardo is accused of forcing his victim, Erika Valdez, into his vehicle at gunpoint on Tuesday, Dec. 29, outside her home on CR 3404 in the Bella Vista Subdivision north of Plum Grove.

“A decision on possible charges and which agency will become the lead investigating agency is likely to be made later this week,” said Capt. Ken DeFoor, a spokesperson for the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office.

Fajardo was arrested by the Lyons Village Police Department at the Skyline Motel in the adjoining City of McCook. Valdez was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries consisting of minor bruising and scratches. It is reported that Valdez is now staying with family members in the Chicago area and is awaiting a flight back to the Houston area where she can rejoin her family members in Liberty County, Texas.

LCSO Investigator Shandalynn Rhame said the extensive investigation and arrest of Able Fajardo was a result of the close cooperation of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, Texas Rangers and Cleveland Police Department, with much credit going to the Lyons Village Police Department and McCook Police Department for the arrest in their jurisdiction.

According to Police Chief Thomas Herion of the Lyons Village Police Department, his agency received information at approximately 1:20 a.m. on New Year’s morning that Fajardo and Valdez were staying at the Skyline Motel in the neighboring city of McCook. After contacting the McCook Police Department, Chief Herion and Assistant Chief James Young secured the services of translator and Officer Jose Pizano.

After making their presence known at the door of the motel, Chief Herion and his officers gained entry into the motel room and Fajardo was taken into custody while Valdez was found in an adjoining room. She reportedly told police she was being held against her will by Fajardo.

Fajardo was transported to the City of Stickney Police Department and placed in jail. While a clear motive has yet to be established, Investigator Rhame said the investigation is ongoing as it involves various law enforcement agencies and further details may be developed at a later date.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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