The unknown man called the family from a blocked number several times early Tuesday morning after Ayvani Hope Perez was taken from the Ellenwood home at gunpoint, an FBI agent said in a sworn statement filed in federal court in Atlanta. The suspected kidnappers finally called the family around midday Wednesday and said Ayvani would be dropped off at a relative’s home in Conyers.
Police on Wednesday arrested 29-year-old Wildrego Jackson and 40-year-old Juan Alberto Contreras-Rodriguez in connection with the case. Jackson had his initial court appearance Thursday on a federal charge of conspiracy to kidnap. A public defender was appointed to represent him and a bond hearing was set for Tuesday. Contreras-Rodriguez faces immigration-related charges and is in the custody of federal immigration officials. It wasn’t clear whether he had a lawyer.
Jackson was taken into federal custody Wednesday when he showed up for a previously scheduled court appearance in Fulton County Superior Court Wednesday, the FBI agent’s statement says.
Police on Tuesday released sketches of two men they say were involved in the abduction. FBI Special Agent Rick Maxwell said Wednesday that Jackson and Contreras-Rodriguez were not the men in the sketches. Investigators were still seeking those men Thursday.
Federal agents used cellphone records of the blocked number to identify Jackson as a suspect, the statement says. The investigation also revealed that a girlfriend of Jackson rented a gray Dodge Challenger a few days before the kidnapping for Jackson to use.
Witnesses in Ayvani’s neighborhood told investigators they had seen a gray Dodge Challenger in the area Monday evening, and a witness who lives nearby saw a gray Dodge speeding away after hearing screams outside early Tuesday.
Two men armed with handguns pried open the home’s back door around 2:15 a.m. and found Ayvani, her 15-year-old brother, her mother and the family dog hiding in a closet, the statement says. The men demanded money and jewelry from Ayvani’s mother. Ayvani was holding the dog and when it began to bark and jumped from her arms, the men fatally shot it.
When Ayvani’s mother said she had no money or jewelry, one man led the teen from the home at gunpoint while the other held her brother and mother in the master bedroom.
Ayvani told investigators there were three or four men involved in her abduction and 36-hour detention. She said the kidnappers hid their faces from her and told her not to look at their faces.
Police said Wednesday they had not uncovered a motive for the kidnapping and had not established a relationship between Ayvani’s family and Jackson and Contreras-Rodriguez. But arrest records show Contreras-Rodriguez and Ayvani’s mother, Maria Corral, were both arrested along with several others in a drug bust at a Henry County home in February 2012.
A judge later dismissed the drug trafficking charge against Contreras-Rodriguez after his lawyer filed a motion saying the agents who investigated the case and who made the arrests had conducted an illegal search. Corral was never indicted and the charges against her were dismissed. Henry County authorities said her record was expunged.
Authorities have released few details about their ongoing investigation.