Man charged in kidnapping

By Gary Brode |, Anna Carrera , Lindsey Gordon , Scott Andresen , Amanda Porterfield |

Published 06/11 2014 05:59PM

Updated 06/24 2014 06:17PM

Latest: 4:00 pm, 6/24/14, Tuesday
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY -- Eduardo Cortez was charged Tuesday with aggravated battery. Police say he kidnapped his ex-girlfriend from Market Place Mall two weeks ago. The two were found in Texas. Cortez' bond is set at $1 million. He's due back in court in August.
Latest: 10:08 pm, 6/16/14, Monday
CHAMPAIGN -- The woman kidnapped from Market Place Mall last week is back in town. Monica Ramirez was found in Houston, Texas, Saturday. Her ex-boyfriend, Eduardo Cortez was arrested.

Ramirez' cousin says their relationship started in Houston years ago and Ramirez moved to Champaign to get away from him. Ramirez had been staying with her cousin in Houston for the past few days after she was rescued.
Latest: 4:51 pm, 6/16/14, Monday
CHAMPAIGN -- An area woman kidnapped at knife-point is found safe. It's some of the best news police officers heard this weekend. The victim is okay and the man accused of kidnapping her faces multiple charges. Many times, this kind of story doesn't end well. But, investigators say, people in our area helped them track the pair across the country. WCIA-3's Anna Carrera has more.

The pair was found in a home in Houston, Texas. Investigators aren't releasing a lot of information about where they were found or how they knew where to look. They say they're grateful people have helped them so far, but there's still work to do.

After 19-year old Monica Ramirez was reported missing from Market Place Mall Wednesday, police sprung into action.

"We ran down as many leads as we could," said Champaign Police Deputy Chief Troy Daniels. "We had officers working around the clock, looking for the vehicle, interviewing anyone who could possible have any information on this."

Investigators knew their suspect, Eduardo Cortez. He was Ramirez' ex. Police say a man he was with, showed a knife when they stole her away and a third man was driving their truck. But, officers didn't know where they took her.

"We were fortunate that the news media helped us so much in those early hours," said Daniels. "Those early stories that went out to the public generated very important leads that helped us move the case forward in a really important way."

The Champaign County Sheriff's Department confirmed one of those leads took them about five miles away from the mall near Bradley Avenue and Staley Road. Witnesses say Cortez worked for the man who owned a shed on the property but police ended up finding him and Ramirez a lot further away.

"When the 2002 red Chevy Silverado pickup truck was located, it was located in Houston, Texas, near them and it had stolen Missouri plates on it at the time," said Daniels.  

The investigation spanned four days and nearly a thousand miles, but at least one art of it is done.

"We are very relieved this case ended as quickly as it did and that we were able to find her as quickly as we were able to," said Daniels.  

Police are still looking for the second suspect. He's the one who was holding the knife at the mall. He's described as a very thin Hispanic male with short hair. He was wearing a red shirt and blue shorts.

Cortez could face charges on different levels. A spokesperson with Houston's FBI says Cortez is being held at the city jail. Since he crossed state lines with Ramirez, he could face federal charges. Champaign's FBI, Houston police and Homeland Security were also involved in the investigation.

Anyone with information related to this case is asked to call Crime Stoppers. You can remain anonymous and may earn a cash reward.

Champaign County Crime Stoppers
(217) 373 - TIPS
Text: CCTip + info to CRIMES (274637)
Latest: 1:00 pm, 6/14/14, Saturday
HOUSTON, TX -- The FBI confirms 25-year-old Eduardo Cortez has been arrested in connection with Wednesday's abduction at Marketplace Shopping Center in Champaign. The woman abducted, 19-year old Monica Ramirez, has also been found safe.

Cortez was arrested Saturday morning around 2:30 am in the 6200-block of Gulfton Street without incident and with the help of the Houston Police Department.

Cortez faces charges in Champaign for aggravated battery. He is being held in the Houston City Jail.
Latest: 6:00 pm, 6/13/14, Friday
CHAMPAIGN -- The Champaign County Sheriff's Department confirms they were assisting Champaign Police near the corner of Bradley Avenue and Staley Road in connection with an investigation about Monica Ramirez. She was kidnapped from Market Place Mall earlier this week.

People who work nearby say they saw the suspect in this case, Eduardo Cortez, around a shed on this property on Wednesday. He works for the man who owns it.

Witnesses say they saw three men in a pickup truck Wednesday, but never saw Ramirez. They say Ramirez's family has been here looking for her as well.

Anyone with information about this case is encouraged to call Crimestoppers at (217) 373 - TIPS.

Latest: 5:00 pm, 6/12/14, Thursday
CHAMPAIGN -- Police are still looking for Monica Ramirez, but now more agencies have joined the search. Ramirez was abducted at knife-point Wednesday afternoon outside the JC Penney at Marketplace Shopping Center.

Now 25-year old Eduardo Cortez is wanted in connection with the abduction. Police say he was romantically involved with Monica Ramirez. He is wanted for aggravated battery.

Police are also looking for a second Hispanic male who was armed with a 12-inch knife. They continue to work with the FBI and other police across the state.

This isn't the first time police have searched for Ramirez. In 2011, an Amber Alert was issued after she and her infant daughter had been kidnapped. They were found safe the next day.
Update: 10:27 pm, 6/11/14, Wednesday
CHAMPAIGN -- Police are still looking for this woman who was kidnapped earlier today. It happened at Marketplace Mall. Authorities are loooking for a red, 2002 Chevrolet Silverado extended-cab pickup truck with license plate 925 02H. The woman was taken at the southeast corner near JCPenney about 4 pm. WCIA-3's Gary Brode tells how it happened.

The woman was walking out of the mall towards her car with another man. That's when three men surrounded the pair. One of the men pulled out a knife. Police believe 25-year old Eduardo Cortez was one of the men.

Cortez is an ex-boyfriend of the woman taken. He is 5'4", 150 pounds.

Deputy sheriff Troy Daniels says, "He's with two other Hispanic males. One is a skinny wearing a red shirt and blue shorts. The other is wearing a white long-sleeve shirt.

If you have any information please call 911 or Crime Stoppers at 373 - 8477.

Cortez has the word "Monica" tattooed on the left side of his neck and "Jaylen" tattooed on his outside left forearm. He has a piercing on his right elbow and is missing three fingers on his right hand.

As for the man who was with the victim, he was not harmed. He is being questioned by police.
Original: 6:00 pm, 6/11/14, Wednesday
CHAMPAIGN -- Police are investigating an abduction from Market Place Mall. It happened just after 4 pm. Investigators say three Hispanic males took a woman.

They say one of the men was 25-year old Eduardo Cortez, who is 5'4" and 150 pounds. They drove away in a red Chevrolet Silverado.

Police provided a picture of Cortez and the woman believed to be abducted. They say her hair is blonde now. Investigators say the pair were in a previous relationship.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at (217) 351 - 4545.

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