Mexican Nationals Guilty of Abduction

Two Mexican nationals living illegally in the United States pleaded guilty to abducting a mentally handicapped woman from outside of her Elm Grove home and transporting her to a Pennsylvania residence, where she was raped over several days in July.

Jose Jesus Tapias Montes, 38, and Elmer Pina Pinto, 44, each pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to a charge of aiding and abetting in the transportation of an individual in interstate commerce with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity.

Sentencing before Judge Frederick P. Stamp Jr. has not yet been scheduled. Montes and Pinto, who remain in custody, face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Both men also face deportation after serving their prison sentences.

According to FBI documents, Montes and Pinto took the then-19-year-old woman from Wheeling on July 7 and transported her to a home in Washington, Pa., where she was kept against her will and raped repeatedly for four days. She was returned to Wheeling and dropped off on a street near her home on July 11.

When found after her return, the woman had a gum wrapper in her pocket with Tapias’ name and a cell phone number written on it. Investigators analyzed phone records and found most calls from that phone were placed from the Washington, Pa., area. On the night the woman was abducted, however, eight calls were made from an area surrounding the location in Wheeling where she was last seen.

That call pattern indicated the suspects were “circling the area looking for a victim,” FBI documents state.

Tapias and Pinto were working as roofers in Washington, Pa., although Pinto had a car registered in his name at a Columbus, Ohio, address. Immigration and customs agents in Columbus stopped that car and arrested Pinto in September. The vehicle was “fully packed and the occupants were en route to Mexico,” court documents state.

A psychiatrist who interviewed the victim said the woman is below the 1 percentile level in her ability to function, meaning 99 percent of people of a similar age have a higher mental capacity than she does.

The Wheeling Police Department and Harmony House Child Advocacy Center assisted in the investigation. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert H. McWilliams Jr.