Kidnapped Woman Returns 22 Years Later

Feb 12, 2006
Reported By Anabel Marquez

For 23-year old Vanessa Atilano, it’s been a long journey.

First she was taken from Philadelphia to Guadalajara, Mexico, at the age
of two.

When she turned five, her parents split. And by the time she was 10, they
told her she had been adopted.

To make matters more complicated, two months ago, the man she always knew
as her father told her she hadn’t really been adopted.

“My dad (Hector) told me the truth. He told me that in reality, they
never finished the paperwork for my adoption. That’s when I decided to
come and fix this situation,” she said.

While working at a Donna drive-in convenience store, Atilano flagged down
a police officer Friday and shared her secret.

“I explained that I wanted to meet my real mother. I told him I had been
kidnapped as a little girl,” she said.

Donna Police took her back to the station, filed a police report and
contacted the Philadelphia Police Department.

They were unable to track missing child reports from 22 years ago but a
Donna spokesperson said that a Philadelphia investigator confirmed
Atilano’s mother had gone to police in search of her daughter back in

They got a hold of her and for the first time ever, the two had a

Action 4 News contacted Tilano’s mother, Olga Vega who expressed relief
about finally hearing from her long-lost daughter.

Vega explained that at the time of the kidnapping, she was a 16-year old
mother with issues.

Her family convinced her to give up her baby to a young, educated and
childless couple,The Mora’s, she said.

“It was a tough case at the time I was young, no money, I wasn’t working.
Vanessa’s father went to prison for five years for committing a crime and
I was left in a hard situation.”

Still, Vega claims it wasn’t long before she figured out what was
happening and fought hard to have full custody of her baby.

“When the court granted me custody, I went to go pick her up and they
were gone,” she stated, referring to her couple and two-year old Vanessa
at the time.

But after decades of separation, the two women plan to reunite soon and
Donna Police say they’ll have DNA testing done, to confirm the

A teary-eyed Tilano said she’s happy and feels better.

“Yesterday when I spoke to her, she told me she loved me. It was
something very beautiful. That her and my sister have cried over me and
want to see me.”

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