Family thanks diligent detective who brought home abducted boy

By Annette Espinoza
Denver Post Staff Writer

When Denver police Detective Paul Baca looked Heidy Lucero square in the
eye in November 2002, he promised he would get her kidnapped 3-year-old
son back.

Baca kept his word.

The boy, Mateo, who is now 7 and prefers to be called Matthew, was
kidnapped on Jan. 13, 2000, in Denver and found Feb. 20, 2003, living in
Queens, N.Y., with his abductor, his paternal grandmother.

On Tuesday, Matthew, his mother and stepfather, Mike Lucero, and other
family members surprised and thanked the easygoing police officer, who
once worked domestic-assault cases and now investigates robberies.

“I’m really proud of this guy,” said Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman.

The boy showered Baca with hugs and kisses and gave him a plaque that was
inscribed, “Thank you detective Baca, you’re my hero.”

He also presented him with a framed thank-you letter written in crayon.

“Thank you for bringing me home to my mom and dad,” Matthew said.

The abduction nightmare began for Heidy Lucero after she left Matthew’s
biological father in Colombia and moved to Denver.

“All she had left were memories, and she almost gave up hope,” said Mike

Heidy’s mother-in-law, Maria Feliciano, was living in Denver and agreed
to babysit the boy while Heidy worked in a market on Federal Boulevard.

One day, Feliciano took the boy to New York without his mother’s
permission and never returned.

The frustrated mother turned to the New York courts but got little help.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children suggested she call
Denver police.

Although Heidy Lucero kept in contact with the grandmother over the years
and sent along money for her son, Feliciano moved around a lot and
threatened Heidy Lucero that she would take the boy back to Colombia.

“I would have never found him there,” she said.

When Baca accepted the case, he had few leads, but the Luceros helped him
by being persistent and offering clues and names.

“We started with less than nothing,” Baca said.

Baca said he worked with the New York Police Department, which helped him
find Matthew’s paternal aunt, who led them to her mother, Feliciano.

Feliciano was charged with two counts of kidnapping and deported to

“I was excited and relieved,” Baca said after the boy was found.

Today, the Baca and Lucero families have bonded. They celebrate holidays
and birthdays together.

Heidy Lucero is grateful that her son is home, and she gives thanks and
credit to Baca.

“You bring back my life,” Lucero said.

Copypright 2005 Denver Post

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