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Bail set at $1 million for suspect in Pope County kidnapping case

Victor Ramirez Alvarez, 22, of Big Lake, appeared in District Court on Monday on felony charges of kidnapping and depriving custodial and parental rights. He is accused of abducting a 2-year-old boy from a rural Pope County home as members of the family slept.

Ramirez Alvarez.jpg
Ramirez Alvarez

Editor's note: The most recent court records in this case, through March 23, 2022, now identify the man as Benigno Alvarez-Gutierrez. One court document lists two other aliases that are variations on that name and the name under which he was originally charged, Victor Ramirez Alvarez.

GLENWOOD — Felony charges of kidnapping and depriving parental rights were filed against the suspect in an Amber Alert issued March 17 in Pope County.

Bail was set at $1 million without conditions and $500,000 with conditions for Victor Ramirez Alvarez, 22, of Big Lake, during his first appearance in Pope County District Court here on Monday on the charges. He remains in custody in the Kandiyohi County Jail.

Alvarez is accused of kidnapping a 2-year-old boy from his home in rural Westport in Pope County during the night of March 16-17, suspected of allegedly taking him out of a bedroom window while other family members slept.

The child was recovered — nearly 20 hours after his disappearance was first reported — in a garage in Zion Township, rural Stearns County at 11:47 p.m. on March 17. A person living there notified authorities that they had discovered the child in the garage. He was reunited with his mother after being examined at a hospital.

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According to a criminal complaint filed on Monday, the mother of the child said Alvarez “was very fond of her son.” The defendant would frequently give the mother and child rides, “hug her son, buy him things, and take photos with him,” according to the complaint.

She discovered her child was missing when she returned home from work after 2 a.m. Thursday, March 17, and sometime later, headed to her bedroom to sleep. Her son was not in the bedroom. He had been in the care of family members, and they reported putting him to bed in the room that he shared with his mother at 8 p.m.

While searching for the child, family members found a note written in both English and Spanish asking for forgiveness for taking the child and indicating a prior plan to do so.

Sheriff’s deputies responding to the home found what appeared to be footprints outside of the child’s bedroom. A canine brought to the scene was alerted to the child’s scent, and followed it down the driver and on a roadway before it was lost.

An Amber Alert was issued at 4:36 p.m. Thursday. The child’s father and his family were interviewed and determined to have no involvement in the abduction, according to the complaint.

After issuing the Amber Alert, authorities received a tip from the manager of an unnamed restaurant where the defendant worked. Employees had seen the defendant with a child that appeared to be the child in the Amber Alert at 8:15 p.m. Thursday.

During the investigation, the complaint alleges that Alvarez texted and called the child’s mother and spoke to her on speakerphone as investigators listened. He claimed to be surprised by the kidnapping and said that he was driving back from California. He made no mention that he knew of the child’s whereabouts.

Law officers went to the defendant’s residence and found clothing that the child was last seen wearing, but not the child.

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At 11:14 p.m. Thursday, Alvarez was stopped while driving and taken into custody, but the child was not with him.

At 11:47 p.m. Thursday, an officer responded to the call from the couple who discovered the child in a booster-style seat in their garage.

During an interview with law enforcement, Alvarez allegedly admitted that he had taken the child from the residence. “He admitted that he dropped the child off in an empty garage at a residence of someone he knew, but stated that no one was home,” stated the complaint.

The residents had not been alerted to the child’s presence in the garage.

The charge of kidnapping — to facilitate felony or flight — filed against Alvarez carries a possible prison sentence of 20 years and or a $35,000 fine. The charge of depriving another of custodial or parental rights carries a possible prison sentence of up to two years or a $4,000 fine.

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoors reporter for the West Central Tribune.
He has been a reporter with the West Central Tribune since 1993.

Cherveny can be reached via email at tcherveny@wctrib.com or by phone at 320-214-4335.
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The Tribune publishes Records as part of its obligation to inform readers about the business of public institutions and to serve as a keeper of the local historical record. All items are written by Tribune staff members based on information contained in public documents from the state court system and from law enforcement agencies. It is the Tribune’s policy that this column contain a complete record. Requests for items to be withheld will not be granted.