VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. — Following a high-speed chase, two missing Volusia County siblings have been found safe in North Florida and their mother has been charged with child abuse, according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office.
- Isabelle Jones, 11, and Xzavier Espinosa, 5, have been found safe
- Mom lost custody of kids; failed to return them after visit
- Authorities say she was speeding from deputies while kids were in the car
Authorities say Izabelle Jones, 11, and Xzavier Espinosa, 5, were found in Lake City with their mother Margarita Gutierrez, 29, who does not have custody of them.
Gutierrez is being held in the Columbia County Detention Facility in Lake City on several charges after her arrest Sunday following an alleged multi-county crime spree last weekend.
Gutierrez, who lost custody of her children, took them from their legal guardian, their grandmother, during an unsupervised visit at a Lowe’s Home Improvement store at 12:30 p.m. DeLand, according to the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies were alerted when she did not return with her kids at the required time of 5:30 p.m.
The grandmother was given custody of the children due to a violent domestic living environment with the Ocala mother and her live-in boyfriend.
On Sunday, Gutierrez was caught by authorities when they were alerted to a burglary of a vacant property in Lake City.
The homeowners showed up to the home and discovered Gutierrez walking from the home, which was discovered to have been burglarized, according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office in a press release. The homeowners reported the burglary to the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.
When deputies with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office approached Gutierrez, she did not give them her ID, and she allegedly fled with the children in a car, the Volusia County Sheriff's Office release stated.
"Deputies pursued her and estimated her speed to be 100 mph, then stopped the pursuit when they realized from a BOLO (be on the lookout) who she was and they observed the children in the car," stated the release.
Eventually, Gutierrez and the children were discovered in the car in a dead-end, rural road in Lake City and she could not drive away once her vehicle was blocked, according to the Volusia County Sheriff's Office release stated.
Her bond is $48,000 in Columbia County, where her charges include:
- Fleeing and eluding officers
- Property damage-criminal mischief
- Child neglect without great bodily harm
- Resisting officer with violence
- Resisting officer without violence
- Drug equipment-paraphernalia