A 13-year-old boy bound to a tree in the woods foiled a kidnapping-for-ransom plan by using a safety pin, his teeth and his hands to escape, police said Sunday.
Investigators searched a Bradenton house early Sunday and issued an arrest warrant for Vicente Ignacio Beltran Moreno, 22, but authorities believe he has fled the state.
The truck suspected in the kidnapping was found outside the home believed to be Beltran’s, detectives said. They also found a ransom note with threats, though they would not say where it was found or what it demanded.
Friday morning, about a dozen children at a school bus stop watched as Clay Moore was forced at gunpoint into a red pickup truck, police said.
It appeared the boy was chosen randomly from the group of children in Parrish, a town about 30 miles southeast of St. Petersburg that has seen explosive growth but still has many rural areas, authorities said.
“Clay was just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Wells said.
Clay was bound and left alone about 20 miles away in some dense woods on a farm where Beltran had worked three years ago, police said. For several hours, the boy worked to untie himself and then walked until he found a farm worker with a cell phone, police said.
“This man kidnapped the wrong kid,” Manatee County Sheriff Charlie Wells said. “This is an observant kid. He’s courageous.”
Investigators believe the kidnapper planned to leave the boy tied up in the woods until the ransom was paid, Wells said. Authorities were trying to determine whether there were other suspects involved.
On Saturday, investigators and the boy returned to the farm where he was rescued a day earlier. A sketch of the suspect was shown to workers who identified Beltran, sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow said.
Beltran, a native of Mexico, had worked at the farm three years ago, but later became a laborer for an aluminum contractor, Bristow said.
Police staked out Beltran’s home, about 12 miles southeast of where the boy was abducted in Parrish, and found the pickup truck believed to be used in the kidnapping, Wells said.
Beltran did not have a published telephone listing in Manatee County.