The search continued Friday for two Modesto girls who, police say, were abducted by their mother from outside a Child Protective Services office in Fresno earlier in the week.
Bianca Galvan, 5, and Maritza Palafox, 3, were scheduled to meet their mother, Bianca Molina, 36, for a supervised visit Wednesday. When Molina saw her children with their foster mother as they approached the building, she scooped them into a car and drove away, authorities said.
Police arrested her Thursday after spotting her driving a stolen car near downtown Modesto, police spokesman Sgt. Craig Gundlach said. Officers initially lost her in rush hour traffic but the California Highway Patrol spotted the car and followed her to a house on the 1500 block of Holm Avenue. A little girl ran from the car before police caught up.
Before police had time to talk with the house's occupants, witnesses said, the girls left with a woman who police believe is Molina's 18-year-old daughter, Priscilla Christine DeLeon.
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"I think everyone can say we need to find Priscilla, and we need to find those kids," Gundlach said.
Molina was being held at the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center on Friday in lieu of $80,000 bail on charges of child abduction, evading a police officer and vehicle theft.
Gundlach said there was nothing to suggest DeLeon would physically abuse the children, but he noted the girls were in the custody of Child Protective Services, which suggested they needed a more stable home environment than their own.
"We have their mother who fled from police officers in a vehicle. We have an 18-year-old sister grabbing the girls and fleeing out of the back while police are out front," Gundlach said. "So we can definitely say these 3- and 5-year-olds are not in a stable condition, and that is our main concern."
Molina reportedly has family in Modesto, Ceres and Farmersville.
Detectives found several other houses in Modesto that at one time Moline or DeLeon had a connection to. The people living there now were cooperative and let police search, Gundlach said.
Gerardo Galvan, the father of Bianca Galvan, said he had been fighting for custody of his daughter and only found out from a friend that she was in foster care in Fresno.
"I'm worried," said Galvan, 30, of Modesto. "I don't know where she is, and I'm concerned for her safety."
He said he went to visit his daughter in September at her home in Modesto only to find Molina and the girls no longer lived there. After hearing the children were in Fresno, he said he contacted Child Protective Services and received a Nov. 28 court date to discuss custody.
Bee staff writer Inga Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2324.