Suspect in kidnapping of Boston woman ordered to undergo mental evaluation

"The victim reported her phone was taken" by the suspect, the police report said. "He refused to let her leave the apartment for the entire time she was held there."
Image: Victor Pena is arraigned on kidnapping charges in Boston Municipal Court in Charlestown, Massachusetts, on Jan. 23, 2019.
Victor Pena is arraigned on kidnapping charges in Boston Municipal Court in Charlestown, Massachusetts, on Jan. 23, 2019.Aram Boghosian / The Boston Globe via AP

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By Phil Helsel

The suspect accused of kidnapping a 23-year-old woman after she left a Boston bar was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation after a court clinician reportedly said he displayed "psychotic" behavior.

Victor Peña, 38, of Boston, faces charges in connection with the abduction of Olivia Ambrose, 23, who went missing Saturday night and was found in Peña’s apartment in the Charlestown section of the city Tuesday, police said.

A Charlestown District Court judge ordered Peña to be held without bail as he completes a 20-day mental health evaluation, NBC Boston reported. A plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf at Wednesday’s arraignment, the district attorney’s office said.

Peña's court-appointed private attorney, Joseph M. Perullo, said that he and his client are “happy that Ms. Ambrose is back with her family," adding that after all the evidence is released "it will show that it wasn’t a kidnapping.”

Police said they found Ambrose inside Peña's apartment Tuesday after officers repeatedly knocked on his door.

"The detectives could see the victim standing next to Pena with a horrified look on her face," a police report said.

Ambrose was taken to a hospital for evaluation.

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"The victim reported her phone was taken by Pena and he refused to let her leave the apartment for the entire time she was held there," the police report said.

Police documents also detail how investigators zeroed in on Peña.

Ambrose’s sister reported her missing on Sunday, saying she had been unable to reach her and that she was last seen at Hennessy’s Bar on Saturday night.

Surveillance video and phone records indicated Ambrose was approached by two men, one of whom was later identified as Peña, according to the police documents.

The suspect was seen "guiding" her and police said it was obvious from the video that she did not go along willingly.

When investigators canvassed near where the last phone records showed the location of Ambrose's phone, two occupants of the building said they recognized Peña from images and said he lived in an apartment in the building, police said in the incident report.

At the same time, police were informed by Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority police that they found a person who resembled those surveillance photos and with an address, according to the incident report.

Olivia Ambrose is seen in this photo released by her family.Courtesy of the Ambrose Family

Police worked with the Boston Housing Authority, who arrived with a drill to remove a lock that had been installed against the authority's rules, and after knocking numerous times officers heard the lower locks being opened from inside.

"As soon as the door opened," police engaged Peña who was standing in the doorway, according to the report, and he was eventually handcuffed after initially resisting.

Ambrose returned home Tuesday night, NBC Boston reported.

"We are beyond happy to have Liviy home” her mother, Heather Ambrose, told the station. "It's amazing," she said.

Her daughter's disappearance had been “completely terrifying," the mother said.

"You sort of go into a numbness," Heather Ambrose said. "You sort of just get through what you have to get through."

"But we're through it, and we’re grateful, and we know that many times the outcome isn't this," she said.

Boston’s police commissioner has said that although two men were seen in surveillance video, only Peña had his arm around her. On Wednesday, police said that second man seen has been cleared, and he turned himself into police and is being treated as a witness.

The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office said that Peña was ordered to be evaluated at Bridgewater State Hospital, and the next court date is scheduled for Feb. 11.