Man accused of running off with teen in SW Florida jail

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Source: A 29-year-old stepfather of a Jacksonville teenager who disappeared on Christmas Eve is being held in the Hendry County jail on charges ...

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A 29-year-old stepfather of a Jacksonville teenager who disappeared on Christmas Eve is being held in the Hendry County jail on charges with interference with custody. That is east of Fort Myers, nearly 300 miles from Jacksonville, where his father lives.The Florida Department of Law Enforcement announced Tuesday afternoon that Elizabeth Marie Rivas-Cordona, 16, and Julian Salazar Zavala were in custody, but did not say where.Elizabeth’s family was excited and relieved when they heard she was safe and said she has returned home.”Thank God for this,” a family member told News4Jax. “I will just say, ‘I love you. I missed you.'”Zavala, who the family said is Elizabeth’s stepfather, was arrested and booked into jail, where he is held on $350,003 bond. In addition to the interference with custody charge, Zavala could face deportation. In 2016 court documents, his attorney said he was a citizen of Mexico, not the United States.The family told News4Jax that when Zavala used to live the Arlington home with his wife two years ago, but they are in the process of being divorced. The family became suspicious that something was going between the teen and Zavala.The pair left her Arlington home about 11 p.m. Sunday. The family was concerned because, even though Elizabeth appeared to leave voluntarily, Zavala has a criminal history and has shown he can be violent.”The situation is very difficult because she is a child,” Elizabeth’s aunt, Marta Cardona, said. “We are afraid that he might do something to her.”Zavala was charged with domestic battery by strangulation in August 2016 after a neighbor reported seeing him choke his wife. According to the arrest report, “He held his hands around the victim’s throat for approximately 30-40 seconds before releasing his hold on her neck.”While Zavala originally pleaded guilty, his attorney filed a motion that it be withdrawn, claiming his client didn’t understand the court forms because they were in English and he only speaks Spanish. In November 2016, Zavala’s motion was granted and he was not prosecuted.
Source: News 4 Jax

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