Details of Disappearance
Bryan was abducted from Fort Myers, Florida on December 1, 2006. He and his mother, Maria de Fatima Ramos Dos Santos, were waiting with Maria's friend, Janice Duarte, at a bus stop when a woman drove up and asked for directions. She said she had been driving around for eight hours trying to find her mother's house.
Maria, Bryan and Duarte got on the bus, but the woman followed the bus until they got off and asked again for help. Maria, Bryan and Duarte got into her car. The woman later let Duarte go. Shortly afterwards she demanded $500 and made threats to Maria. She said she was going to Tampa, Florida but not to tell the police this or she would harm the women's families. She added that if the police stopped the car, the women had to claim they already knew each other.
The abductor eventually dropped Maria and her friend off at the roadside near the Villagio housing development off Three Oaks Parkway in Estero, Florida. She told them they had to wait ten minutes before calling anyone, then she drove away with Bryan. Neither Bryan nor his abductor have been heard from again.
A sketch of the abductor and an image of an SUV similar to the abduction vehicle are posted with this case summary. The abductor is described as being Hispanic, between 28 and 30 years old, heavyset and approximately 5'4 tall, with straight black hair which was partially pinned up in a bun. She wore blue jeans and a black blouse or t-shirt, and spoke Spanish. She is believed to have been driving a black two-door 1998 to 2003 Ford Explorer SUV with older, peeling window tint.
Maria stated there was a diaper bag and car seat in the SUV, indicating the abduction had been planned. The abductor should be considered to be armed and dangerous.
Photographs of Bryan's mother and his father, Jurandir Gomes Costa, are posted with this case summary. They are from a village in Minas Gerais, Brazil, and paid human traffickers helped them move the United States. Authorities theorized that Bryan was abducted in retaliation after Maria and Jurandir fell behind in the payments they owed to the smugglers.
Valter Coelho, an enforcer for a smuggling ring and an acquaintance of Maria's, was detained in connection with Bryan's abduction, but police could find no evidence to link him to the baby and he was deported to his native Brazil without being charged with anything.
Bryan's parents admitted to their illegal status and to owing hundreds of dollars to the smugglers, but denied that this could be the reason their child was taken.
Investigators now believe Bryan's kidnapping was a random crime. After his abduction, a Fort Myers woman went to the police and said she had been walking on the sidewalk with her infant grandchild when she was approached by a woman in a black SUV who asked for directions. This was in the same general vicinity as where Bryan was taken, and occurred only hours after his abduction.
The grandmother and Bryan's mother both picked the same person out of a photo lineup. The woman they identified was later cleared of suspicion, but investigators stated the two incidents were too similar to ignore and they believe Bryan's abductor had also accosted the other baby's grandmother. The abductor may be a woman who wanted a baby of her own; possibly she had experienced a miscarriage or stillbirth before she took Bryan.
Bryan's parents had two additional children following his abduction. Jurandir was arrested for driving without a license in November 2009 and was given over to the custody of immigration authorities the following month, pending deportation proceedings. He was released from detention under a supervision order in June 2010, however, and it remains to be seen whether he will be deported or not.
Maria stated she was going to try to get U Visas for herself and her husband. A U Visa is for victims of violent crimes and allows undocumented immigrants to remain in the United States legally for up to four years.
Bryan's disappearance remains unsolved and his kidnapper has never been identified. Authorities believe she may have been from South America or Mexico originally, or possibly a second-generation immigrant, and that English may be her first language, although she spoke Spanish during the abduction. His case remains unsolved.