Juliani's mom pays 'Nancy Grace Show' visit

January 28, 2011 

An hour before the car many believed would contain the body of her 4-year-old boy was pulled from a canal, Tabitha Cardenas appeared on CNN’s “Nancy Grace Show.”

During the one hour interview, the Patterson mom answered questions and shared the screen with live shots of the grim scene from the canal off Zacharais Road where six hours earlier her ex-boyfriend’s car was discovered at the bottom of the waterway.

“I’m just hoping and praying my son is not in the car,” she told Grace’s fill-in on the show televised on HLN. “That’s all I can hope for.”

The one-hour program went off the air before Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson announced that there were no bodies in the Toyota Corolla believed to have contained kidnap suspect Jose Esteban Rodriguez and her young boy Juliani Cardenas.

During the show that included audio and video from a week’s worth of coverage and various guest panelists trying to read the mind of Rodriguez and take stabs at his intentions, Tabitha Cardenas periodically broke down during live shots from Carmichael where she would later attend a vigil.

“What makes me mad is that farmworker didn’t call as soon as he saw that car go in,” she said of the witness who waited a day before telling investigators he saw a car matching that of the suspect’s roll in the canal. “If my son is in there, maybe they could have saved him.”

At one point, Mark Klaas, a nationally known child advocate, said Cardenas should be thankful for the eyewitness because without his statement, authorities would have never known where to turn.

Another panelist said he felt it might be best for Cardenas to leave the airwaves before the car came up so she could surround herself with her support group.

Cardenas touched on a lot of topics.

• On Juliani Cardenas’ birth father, who she says lives in Texas: “I haven’t spoken to him at all. His sister had gotten a hold of me through Facebook. All she says is she’ll be praying for me. I don’t know if (the father) knows anything that is going on. I never talk to him. And he’s never been there for Juliani, either.”

• On the possibility he fled to Mexico, where she said earlier this week he had relatives: “That’s a possibility. I’ve been telling police … the FBI … they need to keep people at all the borders and check every car.”

• On Jose Rodriguez: “He got fired from his job because he was going to get in a fight with one of the older … I don’t know if he’s a boss … but he was going to get in a fight with somebody at work.”

• On communications with Rodriguez’s mother: “I’ve talked a lot to his mom. She has called me crying. She’s hoping Jose isn’t in the car, too.”

• On Rodriguez being the father of her baby due in a few weeks: “He spent like $200 (on her) already. Bought her Christmas presents. That’s why I was puzzled as to why he did this.”

• On Rodriguez’s whereabouts: “(He) might have dumped his car and somebody is helping him. Somebody picked him up. Who would do that? I’m thinking it must have been a family member because if you’re just somebody’s friend, why would you go to such great lengths to help him. I’m praying he’s still alive.”

• On Rodriguez possibly committing suicide: “ … if he would have committed suicide, why did he have to take my son with him. That’s wrong”