Heroes and Predators
by Robert A. Waters
I don’t really know what to add to this story since it's been in the news quite a bit. But I wanted to write about some good news for a change so here goes. As a true crime writer, most news turns out the other way. Sex predators often get away with their despicable crimes, sometimes for decades if not forever. At least one third of all murders in the U. S. are never solved, even with the latest advances in forensics. Those that are solved leave victims strewn across the landscape, from dead bodies to scarred families and communities. That’s why it’s nice to be able to write about Antonio Diaz Chacon.
A couple of days ago, the twenty-four-year-old Albuquerque, New Mexico auto mechanic saved a six-year-old girl from certain rape and probable murder. An article in the Albuquerque News described what happened: “Antonio and his wife Martha....were loading up his truck when he said he heard another neighbor yelling at a man, who police later identified as Phil Garcia, to let go of a 6-year-old girl, who was walking home from a neighbor's house in a south valley mobile home park.”
As his wife called 911, Chacon jumped in his pickup, giving chase to the van identified by the neighbor as the kidnapper’s getaway car. Through a winding maze of roads, the mechanic followed as the driver desperately attempted to lose him.
Inside the van, the girl, who hasn’t been identified, had been pushed to the floor and told to remain there. While being snatched, she had courageously fought her abductor, alleged to be Phillip Garcia. The spunky child had bitten his fingers, but was now at his mercy.
As the chase continued, Garcia headed toward a deserted mesa. Still trying to elude his follower, the driver panicked and wrecked his van. Garcia then jumped out and fled.
Chacon pulled the child from the van and took her back to his mother’s home. Speaking to the media in Spanish (interpreted by his wife), Chacon said, “The way [the kidnapper] grabbed her and threw her into the van, I knew it wasn't right. I knew I had to catch him. I had to get the girl back from him and take her home, back where she belongs.”
Once Garcia was caught, police found a plethora of incriminating items. According to the Albuquerque News, "Detectives said Garcia tried to ditch a roll of tape and straps near the van. They found more inside the van. Cops said Garcia [had] removed the backseats from the van before taking the girl." In the back, they also found tostadas that the girl had been carrying.
There was bruising on the child's chest and back, indicating a violent abduction.
“This little girl was very lucky,” police Sgt. Tricia Hoffman said. “We can only guess what would have happened to this child. Throughout the country we see situations like this and they do not end typically well.”
Yes, they typically do not end well. According to experts, most child abductions by strangers end in murder, usually within three hours of the kidnapping.
Because of the quick-thinking auto mechanic, one child did not meet this fate.
Who can put a value on a human life? Antonio Diaz Chacon deserves every accolade he gets.