EAST CHICAGO: Girl’s family reports she flew home Sunday
BY ELIZABETH EAKEN
EAST CHICAGO – Lilia Gonzalez, the East Chicago teen reportedly abducted
and taken to Mexico on Nov. 15 by a 19-year-old who wanted to date her,
is home in Indiana.
Gonzalez, 15, arrived by plane at 12:40 a.m. Sunday at O’Hare
International Airport. She was accompanied by an FBI agent. Gonzalez’s
family members greeted her at the airport. They agreed to let her stay
with authorities for interviewing until she sees a Lake County Juvenile
The teen appeared dazed and scared at the airport, according to her
family. She was thinner and appeared to be wearing the same clothing she
had on when she vanished, the family said. They said it appeared as if
the man who allegedly took her played games with her mind and threatened
Gonzalez’s family said the man who allegedly abducted her became obsessed
with her while she was tutoring him in English.
“He put his eyes on my niece and said, ‘I don’t care what people say,
she’s mine,’” said Chris Rios, Gonzalez’s uncle.
Gonzalez’s family members said Sunday that they and the investigators
handling the case locally didn’t have any new information on how the case
was resolved in Mexico or if the suspect was in custody. They said the
investigators were expecting to exchange information today with the
agents who returned Gonzalez to the United States. The family did say
local authorities promised charges would be filed against the suspect.
When Gonzalez disappeared last month family members said they struggled
at first to get their case taken seriously. They took matters into their
own hands and posted fliers about her disappearance all over the area and
in Chicago. They credit the multitude of phone calls they received to
solving her disappearance.
Family members said they received many tips about the whereabouts of the
suspect, including the flight number for the plane he and Gonzalez flew
on out of O’Hare and his location in Mexico. The suspect reportedly used
his sister’s passport for Gonzalez, who is a U.S. citizen.
Family members credit FBI agent William Noser, of the Merrillville
office, and East Chicago police Juvenile Division Investigator Michael
Gruszka with tackling the case and ensuring the safe return of Gonzalez.
“There’s no way that you can thank these people” said Angela Rios,
Gonzalez, an honor student at East Chicago Central High School, was
tutoring the suspect, a Mexican citizen, who also attended her high
school and was studying English as a foreign language, family members
said. They said the tutoring took place at their home but reportedly was
arranged through a program at the high school.
Gonzalez’s family members said they were under the impression the man she
tutored was only 17. When they discovered he was 19, they were shocked
and he was told to leave the home and not return. Gonzalez’s father,
Marcelino Gonzalez, also was upset the man showed up for daily tutoring
sessions and said the man begged him not to cancel his tutoring sessions.
The family said there was never a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship
between the two.
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