Isidro Garcia, 41, was arrested on suspicion of kidnapping for rape, lewd acts with a minor and false imprisonment, the Santa Ana Police Department police said.
Police described a decade during which the victim, abused mentally, physically and sexually by her captor, was moved at least four times and given multiple fake identities to hide her from family and authorities.
Garcia allegedly told her that her family had stopped trying to find her, and that if she tried to contact them they would be deported.
“Even with the opportunity to escape, after years of physical and mental abuse, the victim saw no way out of her situation and lived a life with Garcia under sustained physical and mental abuse,” police said in a written statement.
Neighbours were stunned, describing them as a seemingly happy couple who doted on their young daughter and liked to host parties at their apartment in the working-class community of Bell Gardens, about 32 kilometres from where she originally disappeared.
“He treats her like a queen. He does his best to do whatever she wants,” next-door neighbour Maria Sanchez said in Spanish.
The now-25-year-old woman, whose identity is not being released, first contacted authorities Monday, the same day Garcia was first arrested. Police said she came forward to police after finding her sister on Facebook.
Santa Ana police Cpl Anthony Bertagna said his department’s investigation concluded the following: The girl arrived from Mexico in February 2004 to join her mother and sister in Santa Ana, about 48 kilometres southeast of downtown Los Angeles. She had entered the United States illegally and spoke no English.
Garcia was her mother’s boyfriend. After one fight between the girl’s mother and Garcia in August 2004, the girl’s mother left the house and the girl went to a nearby park.