Alleged kidnapper, molester from 2008 case extradited to Aspen

Man wanted on 13-year-old warrant arrested in Texas and back in Pitkin County

A former El Jebel resident who allegedly took a 3-year-old girl from her mother’s car 13 years ago and molested her in a nearby yard was extradited back to Aspen to face charges this week, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Miguel Franco-Hernandez, 54, was ordered held in lieu of a $50,000 cash-only bond during an advisement Monday, said Deputy District Attorney Don Nottingham. Franco-Hernandez faces charges of second-degree kidnapping with intent to commit a sexual offense, sexual assault on a child and second-degree criminal trespassing, according to Nottingham and court documents.

Franco-Hernandez, also known as “Martin Fuentes,” was arrested in Texas on the Pitkin County warrant and extradited to Aspen. The allegations in the case are “very disturbing,” Nottingham said Tuesday.

The victim in the case, who recently turned 17, was 3 at the time of the incident, which occurred in January 2008, he said.

The girl’s mother worked as a housekeeper 13 years ago and had to finish her duties that January day at a residence in Aspen, which was expected to take just two or three minutes, according to a warrantless arrest affidavit filed in Pitkin County District Court. The girl was tired and was watching a DVD inside the car at the time, so the mother left her in the car while she went inside the building.

When she came back, her daughter was not inside the car, according to the affidavit. She spent 10 minutes searching for her before calling police, who helped her look for another 25 to 30 minutes, the affidavit states.

Finally, the mother heard crying inside the fence of a yard behind the residence she’d initially visited and entered the yard. Franco-Hernandez, who the woman knew as “Martin,” was standing in the yard, the affidavit states.

“Martin said, ‘Is that your daughter?’ and pointed further to the south inside the yard,” according to the affidavit.

The 3-year-old was standing near the side entrance to the house, crying with her snow suit unzipped when the mother found her. Franco-Hernandez, who appeared drunk and unsteady on his feet, followed her out of the yard to her car and attempted to get into her car before the mother was able to drive away, according to the affidavit.

The 3-year-old, who referred to Franco-Hernandez as “borracho” or drunk in Spanish, told her mother and authorities that Franco-Hernandez kissed her on her lips, unzipped her clothing, reached inside her clothes and touched her between her legs then made her touch him under his shirt, the affidavit states.

Franco-Hernandez worked as a landscaper and briefly had a snow shoveling company before apparently fleeing the area, according to the affidavit.

Jeff Fain, a former Aspen police detective who investigated the case, said Franco-Hernandez was investigated and cleared of similar child molestation allegations in Virginia in the early 2000s. He came to the attention of Texas authorities recently after he was arrested for domestic violence, said Fain, now a detective with the Glenwood Springs Police Department.


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