Details of Disappearance
Zachary was abducted by his non-custodial father, Rolando Rodriguez, on June 7, 1987. A felony warrant for abduction was issued for Rolando on September 25, 1987, over three months after he absconded with his son, and a federal warrant was issued later.
An age-progressed image of Rolando is posted with this case summary. His date of birth is November 3, 1958, making him 28 years old at the time of his son's abduction. He's described as Hispanic, 5'6 and 120 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. Rolando may have a mustache. He may use the aliases Ronald J. Hernandez, Roy Rodriguez and/or Ray Rivera.
Rolando's ex-wife, Nadine Walter, was fighting for custody of Zachary in 1987. She took Zachary from their home in Kane County, Illinois to her father's home in Claiborne County.
Rolando sought and received full temporary custody because Walter had taken Zachary out of the state without permission. He went to Tennessee and, with the help of a friend, forcibly took the child back, snatching him from a church parking lot and injuring Zachary's grandfather in the process. Walter later got custody of Zachary, but she never saw her son again.
Walter and her then-boyfriend, William Nally Sr., drove back to Illinois to look for Zachary. Nally had a lengthy criminal history, including gang involvement and violent offenses. On June 8, he and Walter went to the Carpentersville, Illinois law office of Timothy McNamee and Timothy Mahoney.
Rolando was Mahoney's client and it was Mahoney who helped him get temporary custody of Zachary. (Walter lated sued Mahoney for $9 million, alleging he conspired to kidnap the child.) Nally shot McNamee while Walter waited in the car, and she drove him away. They were suspects in the murder almost immediately, but the police didn't have the evidence to arrest them at the time.
Over a year later, while under investigation for credit card fraud, Walter agreed to testify against Nally in exchange for immunity from prosecution. She said Nally wanted to kill both attorneys because he thought they were plotting to steal from local drug dealers, and she thought killing McNamee and Mahoney would scare Rolando into giving Zachary back.
Nally was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole. He died in 2007. Prosecutors theorized he actually intended to shoot Mahoney and shot McNamee by mistake; the two men were of similar appearance and drove identical vehicles.
Walter accepted assistance from Illinois's witness protection program, assumed a new name and Social Security number, and relocated to Florida. She remarried and had three more children, including one adopted one.
1987 was not the first time Rolando abducted Zachary; in 1985, when Zachary was only two and a half months old, Rolando had an accomplice kidnap the child and then fled to Texas with Zachary. He reportedly did this because Walter had filed for divorce and he was angry with her. He returned voluntarily to Illinois a short time later, acting on the advice of relatives and his lawyer.
Walter describes Rolando as abusive and stated he killed her three pet cats, threw her down a flight of stairs and threatened her life.
Rolando remained in touch with Mahoney after Zachary's 1987 abduction. In 1988, acting on the attorney's advice, he called the prosecutor in McNamee's case from a pay phone. He offered to be a witness at the trial. The prosecutor promised to protect him if he would turn himself in, but Rolando never contacted the authorities again.
He was arrested for shoplifting and battery in Tucson, Arizona in 1989, but released before a fingerprint check revealed his true identity. He had been using his brother's name and was married to a woman named Rosa. Zachary was using the name "Marcos" at the time.
In the early 1990s, Rolando was arrested again in Houston, Texas after a traffic violation, but again the police released him before they realized who he was. Once they ran his fingerprints and realized Rolando was wanted, they went to the hospital he had listed as his employer, but by then he had fled.
In 2001, a security guard at an airport in Chicago, Illinois thought he saw Rolando and Zachary together with a woman. They ran from the guard and he lost track of them. The man and the woman had tried to use cash to purchase tickets to fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Rolando's sick father lives in Puerto Rico and it's possible Rolando had been planning to visit him.
In 2005, Walter graduated from law school at Florida A&M University. She got internship as a paralegal in the prosecutor's office, prosecuting misdemeanor cases, and was going to be hired as a full-time state's assistant attorney following her acceptance to the Florida Bar
Several months later, she was dismissed from the internship after the prosecutor's office found out about her past. She had not disclosed her plea deal and trial testimony on her bar application and the prosecutor's office was also unaware of it.
After the omission was discovered, Walter stated she deeply regretted her role in McNamee's homicide and wanted to redeem herself by helping victims of violent crime.
Walter has persisted in her search for Zachary and maintained contact with law enforcement in Illinois. In part because of Walter's efforts, Ronald Hernandez, Rolando's alleged accomplice in Zachary's kidnapping, was arrested on related charges in 2001.
Zachary remains missing and there has been no reliable information on his whereabouts since 1987. Many agencies list the date of his abduction as June 30, 1987.