From the Apopka Police Department
Yesterday, the Apopka Police Department issued an Amber Alert for three-year-old Made- line Mejia based on information provided by her father.
After the Amber Alert was issued and suspects were detained with the assistance of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Highway Patrol, the Apopka Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division traveled to Tallahassee to further their investigation into this matter.
Upon completing interviews with the suspects, it was determined the child was taken by her biological mother and her mothers’ boyfriend without force, however the mother acknowledged she did not have legal custody of Madeline. The mother, Tania Duarte, 19, and her boyfriend Kevin Smith Olmedo-Velis, 19, were arrested on warrants obtained by the Apopka Police Department for interference with child custody and booked into the Leon County Jail.
Two other subjects in the vehicle were released and taken into custody by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The father of the child, Lester Mejia, was re-interviewed by detectives and it was determined he was not completely forthcoming with the original information he provided to the Apopka Police Department.
When confronted with the information detectives learned while in Tallahassee, Mejia advised he was contacted by a relative while at work and informed the mother had taken the child. Upon learning that Duarte had taken the child, Mejia called 911 while enroute back to Apopka from work. Mejia was allegedly told by an unknown dispatch center that there was no crime if the mother has the child.
Given that information, Mejia was scared he would not see his daughter again so he provided the abduction story in hopes it would assist in recovering his daughter. Although Mejia was not forthcoming with the information he provided to the Apopka Police Department he did have lawful custody of his daughter and Duarte unlawfully removed Madeline from his custody.
The Apopka Police Department continues to investigate this matter, and is thankful that Madeline was found safe and returned to Mr. Mejia. Due to the ongoing investigation, the Apopka Police Department will not have any further comments but will provide updates as necessary.