PATTERSON, CA - Dive teams have concluded their search for the night at the Delta Mendota Canal for a car matching the description of one driven by the suspect in a Patterson abduction was seen going into the water Tuesday.
Sheriff Adam Christianson said a man who works in the area called his department Wednesday afternoon after learning about the Amber Alert for 4-year-old Juliani Cardenas. He reported seeing a car like the Toyota driven by abduction suspect Jose Esteban Rodriguez driven into the canal yesterday.
Christianson said divers dragged the canal and reported snagging a large object.
On the first dive, a diver found the object to be a large piece of concrete. On a second dive, a car that had been reported stolen was brought up but it was not the one connected to the abduction.
Divers found a third object in the water, but were not able to identify what it was before it got dark.
Divers will return to the canal at 10 a.m. Thursday.
Sheriff's spokesman Deputy Raj Singh said fresh tire tracks were found near the canal near Patterson.
"We'd like to be able to find our 4-year-old victim alive but all indications are that we believe the car is here in the canal," Christianson.
The sheriff added when the Amber Alert was initially issued, a number of calls from all over California came in but for the most part, they have stopped.
Authorities have been looking for Juliani since he was forcibly taken from his grandmother in Patterson at 4:12 Tuesday afternoon. The suspect is the boy's mother's former boyfriend, said Chief Tori Hughes with the Stanislaus County Sheriff Department.
Authorities say Rodriguez, 27, was driving a 2003 silver Toyota Corolla, California license plate 6HBW445 with oversize aluminum wheels and dark tinted windows. The right front wheel was a smaller spare.
Rodriguez has an extensive criminal history, including a 1999 manslaughter conviction.
Juliani is Hispanic, 3 feet 6 inches tall and 40 pounds with black hair and brown eyes. He wore a light blue fleece zip-up top with black sweatpants and Spider-Man shoes that light up.
Rodriguez, 27, is described as Hispanic, 5 feet 9 inches tall and 180 pounds. He has black hair and brown eyes. When last seen, he wore a black and white shirt, checkered pants and a beanie.
Anyone with information on Cardenas or Rodriguez was asked to contact Sgt. Camarda at the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department at (209) 552-2472.