Stories run daily of people gone missing. Some end in tragedy, while others end in a heartrending limbo of uncertainty. Still others, like the Tuesday evening abduction case of 4-year-old Lesley Estefania Perez in Hidalgo, Texas, end well, the child returned safely home.
But in the cases of abduction, such as the tragic Sandra Cantu case in California and the uncertainty of the Haleigh Cummings case in Florida, not knowing where the abducted child is becomes only the first aspect of the unfolding horror of the missing child. And until the child is recovered — and sometimes afterward, questions of who, what, when, how, why, and if torment family and friends of the victim.
But in this case it was Lesley Perez’ older sister, 12-year-old Brianda, who made all the difference in recovering her little sister. Brianda Perez told Hidalgo Police that a man in a white pickup truck had kidnapped her sister. She had fought with him but the man had proven too strong for her.
According to the Brownsville Herald, Hidalgo Police and the FBI praised Brianda’s information and description, acknowledging that the details given by the young girl had led them to the profile of Christian Elijalee McMillan, a 23-year-old California carnival worker who lived on a rented farm near Mercedes. Police arrested McMillan late Wednesday night, a little over 24 hours after the child went missing, and discovered Lesley Perez relatively unhurt. She was rushed to Knapp Medical Center in Westlaco, but was found to have not been sexually accosted (according to her family), her only wounds red marks around her wrists where Christian McMillan had bound her during the abduction.
Christian McMillan has a history of sexual predation and authorities believe that it was his intent to sexually abuse Lesley Perez when he abducted her. McMillan had cased out the neighborhood where the 4-year-old lived in his white Ford F-150 for three days prior to the kidnapping.
No one had noticed or reported a strange white truck in the neighborhood…
Christian McMillan was in the process of altering the white paint job on his pickup truck when he was arrested as well, the body partially covered in primer. Authorities believe that McMillan was attempting to disguise the vehicle.
Just a few more hours and Christian McMillan may have disappeared with the child. And then who knows what would have occurred. Given all the horrible tales of child sexual predation, the rest of Lesley Perez’ story would more than likely have grown increasingly dark.
But it did not. The story ended happily — this time — and a sexual predator was taken off the streets. Thanks to some very quick work by local and national law enforcement agencies. And especially thanks to Lesley’s determined and very observant older sister.