Two missing Modesto girls were turned over to Modesto police Saturday after a four-day search that police said started when their mother abducted the girls from outside a Child Protective Services office in Fresno.
Bianca Galvan, 5, and Maritza Palafox, 3, were in the custody of Stanislaus County Child Protective Services on Saturday afternoon.
The girls' older sister, Priscilla De-Leon, took the girls to Modesto police headquarters shortly before noon, said Sgt. Craig Gundlach.
He said the girls appeared to be in good health with no sign of injuries.
DeLeon, 18, called Modesto police detectives Saturday morning and told them she would bring the children to the department.
Gundlach said DeLeon was not ar- rested or detained, but she stayed with the girls until CPS officials arrived. He said the priority was to take the girls' mother, Bianca Molina, 36, into custody and have the girls returned safely to authorities.
"I'm not sure there was enough evidence to arrest her," Gundlach said. "She might not have done anything wrong."
Detectives will send their report to the Stanislaus County district attorney's office, where prosecutors will determine if DeLeon will face criminal charges.
Bianca and Maritza were scheduled to meet their mother, Molina, for a supervised visit Wednesday in downtown Fresno. When Molina saw her children with their foster mother as they approached the building, she scooped them into a car and fled, authorities said.
Molina drove away with the girls in a blue 2007 Dodge Caliber.
The car had been rented by an acquaintance of Molina, said Fresno police Lt. Don Gross. Molina reportedly borrowed the car, but when she failed to return it, her acquaintance reported it stolen. He said the theft report was filed before the alleged abduction.
Gross said he was restricted on how much information he could release about how the children came under CPS jurisdiction. The girls were removed from their mother's care in September.
On Thursday, police arrested Molina after spotting her driving the stolen car near downtown Modesto, Gundlach said. Officers initially lost her in rush-hour traffic, but the California Highway Patrol spotted the car and followed her to a house in the 1500 block of Holm Avenue. A little girl was seen running from the car before police caught up.
Gundlach said the officers approached the car and found that the driver was Molina. She was taken into custody.
Before the officers had time to talk with the occupants of the house, witnesses said, the girls left with a woman who police believe was DeLeon.
Molina was being held at the Stanislaus County Public Safety Center on Saturday on charges of child abduction, evading a police officer and vehicle theft. Her bail was $80,000.
Bee staff writer Rosalio Ahumada can be reached at email@example.com or 578-2394.