ST. GEORGE — A St. George woman is in jail facing first-degree felony aggravated kidnapping after a call to 911 from an out-of-state family member reported that a young mother and her 10-month-old infant were not allowed to return home until he paid $2,500 in ransom.
The incident that led to the arrest began shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday, when officers responded to a residence on Glen Canyon Circle on a possible kidnapping in progress, after emergency dispatch received a call from a man in Kansas City, Kansas, reporting that his adult stepdaughter and her 10-month-old infant had been kidnapped.
The caller also reported that he had been contacted by an unknown female, later identified as 35-year-old Nelly Ciprian-Sosa, who allegedly demanded that $2,500 be sent to her electronically, and if he failed to do so then he was told “something bad would happen,” the officer noted in the probable cause statement filed with the court.
The man also told emergency dispatch that his step-daughter was working for the suspect, but did not know exactly where she and the infant were living, and the only address he was given was the Glen Canyon residence provided by the suspect during the alleged ransom call. The 911 caller also provided police with the bank account information provided by the suspect to make the deposit.
Prosecutor Ryan Shaum with the Washington County Attorney’s Office told St. George News that the mother of the infant “is an adult, but a very young adult,” he said.
Officers arrived to find that the residence was actually a vacation rental. They were met by the property owners, who happened to be there when police arrived.
According to court records, the officer spoke with the homeowners and confirmed there were no issues at that address, nor any reports of a kidnapping, and that “everything appeared completely normal,” the officer noted while at the scene.
Authorities checked the cell phone number used by the suspect to make the alleged ransom call, which came back to a Nelly Ciprian, whom police were “very familiar with” after having dealt with the family on multiple calls which also provided an address for the suspect’s residence.
Officers responded to an apartment complex located on South 1100 East for a followup interview with the suspect, which is when they found multiple individuals inside of the residence, including the young mother and her infant, at which point the suspect was detained and interviewed by police.
According to the report, the suspect told authorities that one of her friends had told her there was a female living in Kansas City that was being abused by a family member, and shortly thereafter, Sosa agreed to purchase a plane ticket for the woman and her infant to fly from Kansas City to St. George.
The suspect also told police that the mother and baby “came here with nothing” and Sosa claimed to have spent $2,500 to purchase clothing, transportation and food for the pair, which also matched the amount the suspect allegedly demanded during the ransom calls.
Through the course of the investigation, officers learned the suspect’s daughter would watch the young woman’s infant while the mother went to work cleaning properties with the suspect, and after the baby reportedly became fussy on multiple occasions, the suspect demanded $100 per day at a minimum from the mother to cover babysitting costs.
When the issue of daycare costs came up, a disagreement erupted between the two, which is when the young woman requested to return home to Kansas City – a request that was reportedly denied when Sosa told her she was not allowed to return home until she paid the suspect “all of the money back,” according to the report.
As the verbal altercation continued, Sosa told the officers that her 14-year-old son physically assaulted the woman and reportedly told her she was not allowed to leave “until his mother received her money,” adding that she and her son also took all of the woman’s property – including a cell phone, the infant’s baby formula, identification documents, money and clothing – and hid the items in a vacant lot behind the apartment complex.
A review of Sosa’s cell phone revealed 26 calls and 14 text messages sent to the family member in Kansas City over the course of three hours, including text messages that included the suspect’s bank account information, the suspect’s full name, and payment options to send the money, including using Venmo, Paypal or Zelles.
Inside of the residence, officers also noticed that on the desktop computer, an internet page was open and showed a Google search for a bank routing number.
Authorities also learned that the suspect ran her own clearing business and, according to the statement, police have reason to believe that the Glen Canyon address was provided to the man in Kansas City being that it was one of the properties the suspect was contracted to clean.
The mother told police during an interview that she did relocate to St. George with the intent of working for the suspect, and confirmed that Sosa’s demand for more money due to the costs associated with the infant was what led to the disagreement between the two.
During the argument, she confirmed that Sosa’s son punched her in the face before taking her belongings and hiding them.
Sosa was arrested and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility and booked on multiple charges, including first-degree felony aggravated kidnapping for allegedly assaulting and detaining the young woman against her will, as well as one second-degree felony count of kidnapping for reportedly detaining the 10-month baby against her. She also faces one count of endangering a minor, which is a third-degree felony charge, for intentionally depriving the baby of food, “specifically formula,” court documents state. There is also one count of tampering with evidence, a misdemeanor, for allegedly hiding the woman’s property.
Authorities also requested that Sosa be held on the charges rather than allowing the suspect to post a bond “as it appears there is possible evidence to support additional victims working for Nelly,” the officer noted in the order that was signed by District Judge Jeffrey J. Wilcox Tuesday night.
Sosa remains in custody on $50,000 bail and is scheduled to make an initial appearance in 5th District Court Friday. The juvenile was also taken into custody by police, but no further details were released due to the teen’s age.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.