MIAMI — A Florida man has been arrested and charged in a brutal weekend crime against a 12-year-old boy, the aftermath of which was caught on camera.
Aliex Santiesteban, 43, of Miami, was arrested Tuesday morning and charged with attempted felony murder, kidnapping a child under the age of 13 and sexual battery with a deadly weapon/serious injury, according to Miami-Dade County Jail records. He is being held without bond.
Major Brian Rafky, head of the Miami-Dade Police Department’s Special Victims Bureau, said Tuesday that a number of leads and evidence led to Santiesteban’s arrest, from “good old-fashioned police work” to DNA and other forensics.
Alfredo Ramirez III, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, appeared emotional during a news conference Tuesday
“This is extremely disturbing, and it hits you at the soul,” said Ramirez, himself the father of a 12-year-old. “No child or family should ever suffer the horrors that they went through. This child suffered physical and emotional trauma that will take years to overcome.”
The crime against the boy is one that stunned the community, Miami-Dade Police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta said.
He heard a ‘pop’
Detective Adalberto Fuentes, an investigator with the department’s Special Victims Bureau, said Monday that the boy’s ordeal began after he snuck out of his house around midnight Friday night to hang out with friends.
“In an attempt to conceal the fact that he was not home, he placed pillows and a blanket to show as if someone was sleeping there,” Fuentes said.
The boy walked about three miles to a friend’s house and hung out for a while. Around 2:30 a.m. Saturday, the boy was returning home when he was accosted in the Brownsville community by a Hispanic man with long curly hair.
The stranger forced the boy into his car, Fuentes said.
See Miami-Dade police officials’ video below, including footage of the victim seeking help. Editor’s note: The footage contains graphic images.
The kidnapper drove a couple of blocks away to an empty lot, forced the boy into the back seat of the car and sexually assaulted him. Zabaleta, the police spokesman, said the child safety locks on the car had been activated, preventing the boy from fleeing.
“After the sexual assault, there was a struggle, at which point the victim heard a ‘pop’ and said that everything went blank,” Fuentes said. “He was then pushed out of the vehicle and the subject fled in an unknown direction.”
Once outside the car, the boy told police he realized he’d been shot in the face. Unable to see, the child began wandering to find help.
A good Samaritan in the neighborhood where he’d been assaulted found the boy.
“He took this young victim to a nearby convenience store. He was able to summon assistance, which ultimately saved (the boy’s) life,” Rafky said Tuesday.
Surveillance footage released by authorities shows the bloodied and disoriented boy, clad in a blue T-shirt and striped shorts, walking slowly to the Foodland Food Mart, his rescuer on a bicycle beside him. The boy can be seen talking to his rescuer and another man outside the store before collapsing to the ground next to a trash can, clutching his head.
The boy’s face is blurred in the footage to protect his identity.
The good Samaritan, whose name was not released, said in a police video that he spotted the boy crying out for help.
“He was walking in the street, hollering for help. ‘Help, help, somebody help me, please,’” the man said. “He was all bloody.”
Watch Tuesday’s news conference below, courtesy of WSVN-TV in Miami.
The man on the bicycle told the boy to come with him to the nearby store.
“I asked him what happened, and he said he was raped,” the man said. “He didn’t tell me he was shot at the time.”
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue rushed the boy, who was in critical condition, to Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial Hospital. Fuentes said Monday that his condition had stabilized, but that he remained in a lot of pain.
“It’s a traumatic incident that occurred to him,” the detective said. “The victim is very lucky. The shot went through his jaw and exited his head. A couple of inches in either direction could have killed him right there on the spot.”
‘The face of evil’
The video was released to the public Monday as detectives continued trying to find the boy’s attacker.
“This is a very dangerous individual,” Fuentes said. “If he is willing to shoot and harm a 12-year-old child, he’d be willing to do it to basically anyone else.”
An emotional Ramirez on Tuesday pointed toward a blown-up photo of Santiesteban’s booking photo.
“That is the face of evil right there, ladies and gentlemen,” the director said. “Right there.”
Watch footage of Santiesteban’s arrest below, courtesy of NBC 6 in Miami.
Ramirez praised the quick work by detectives and lab personnel in identifying Santiesteban as a suspect and locating him at an apartment building on NW 3rd Avenue. Cellphone video obtained by NBC 6 in Miami shows about a dozen police officers leading a handcuffed Santiesteban to a patrol car.
Radky said the gun and vehicle allegedly used in the boy’s abduction and assault were recovered during Santiesteban’s arrest.
Ramirez also praised the good Samaritan and others who helped save the victim’s life.
“I would personally like to thank the community members who found this child and guided him to safety,” Ramirez said. “I am sure that his parents are very grateful to you.”
Radky said the investigation into Santiesteban is ongoing. He asked the public to take a good look at Santiesteban’s booking photo and, if they know about him victimizing others in the community, to call the police.
“This will not rest,” Radky said. “The same way our folks here, in forensics, in the Special Victims Bureau and all the Criminal Investigations Division fought hard to make sure we find this individual, we will continue to do so in identifying any future victims that may have been subject to this person’s heinous acts.”
Anyone with information about the case or Santiesteban is asked to call the Special Victims Bureau at 305-715-3300 or to contact Miami-Dade/Florida Keys Crime Stoppers at 305-471-TIPS (8477), 866-471-8477 or crimestoppersmiami.com.
Crime Stoppers tips may be submitted anonymously.