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Girl chewed through restraints in bold escape from week of captivity in Alabama

The suspect is charged with the killings of Sandra Vazquez Ceja, 34, and a boy under 14.

A kidnapped 12-year-old chewed through her restraints, breaking the braces on her teeth, to escape a week of captivity in Alabama, investigators said Tuesday.

Her escape led to deputies discovering the bodies of her slain mother and brother, who officials believe were killed by her mother's boyfriend, Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett said Wednesday.

The girl was abducted July 24 and tied to bed posts for a week while Jose Paulino Pascual-Reyes, 37, kept her in a "drugged state" with alcohol, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in Tallapoosa Circuit Court.

She was found walking on an Alabama road Monday morning near the mobile home she shared with her mom, brother and the suspect since February, Abbett said.

A passing motorist stopped to help and stayed until authorities arrived and found the bodies a short time later, according to the sheriff.

"We try to preach this, if you see something you need to say something," Abbett said.

"You don't need to go down the road and say, 'What should I have done' and then you find out this happened — because I'm sure that there's more motorist who passed her that day."

Pascual-Reyes has been charged with kidnapping, two counts of murder and two counts of corpse abuse, court records showed.

He is accused of smothering of Sandra Vazquez Ceja, 34, with a pillow and cutting her body into pieces "in order to hide evidence," according to criminal complaints filed Wednesday.

Image: Sheriff Jimmy Abbett of Tallapoosa County, Ala., at a press conference following the rescue of a 12-year-old girl who had managed to escape from captivity.
Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett at a news conference after the rescue of a 12-year-old girl who managed to escape from captivity Monday. WSFA

The younger victim was identified in court papers only as a boy under 14.

His death was caused by the suspect "striking him with his hands and feet," a complaint said. His body was also cut into pieces in an alleged effort to cover up the crime, according to court documents.

The kidnapping and slayings happened July 24, with the abduction intended to "violate or abuse sexually," the complaint said.

The 12-year-old "had broken braces from chewing out of her restraints," authorities said, adding that "deputies observed marks on the victim's wrists indicative of being restrained."

The suspect on Wednesday faced a judge for the first time and he was ordered to remain in jail without bail. His court-appointed defense attorney could not be immediately reached for comment.

The sheriff called the girl a hero and said this was one of the worst crimes he's seen in his 53 years in law enforcement.

"It's kind of hard to put into words," Abbett said Wednesday. "All of them (murders) are bad, but this is horrendous. I've seen lots of lots of homicides and this is horrendous."