Merced Sheriff's Department: Couple tried to sell baby boy

Car seat links Ceja-Diaz infant to one peddled by man and woman.

December 9, 2010 

A couple seeking to sell a baby may be tied to an ongoing case of a missing mother and her baby, the Merced County Sheriff's Department's Major Crimes Division said Thursday.

Ana Lila Diaz DeCeja and her 2-month-old son, Anthony Ceja-Diaz, disappeared Dec. 2 from her home in the 1500 block of Plainsburg Road.

The first clue to possible baby theft came when a couple walking a path along Bear Creek and Parsons Avenue on Friday found a baby car seat.

Earlier that day, authorities had found the missing Chevrolet Avalanche with the baby car seat missing, but the base was still attached.

A witness has since reported that early Friday, near 27th Street and Midge Avenue, a man and a woman carrying a baby in a car seat asked if the individual "wanted to buy a baby," according to deputy Tom MacKenzie, sheriff's spokesman.

The witness described the car seat and it matched the one found.

The witness described the couple as a light-complected Latino or Caucasian man, 5-foot-7 to 5-foot-8 tall, with a thin build, in his early to mid-40s with brown hair and full beard, wearing a black beanie cap, brown pants and black shirt.

He was accompanied by a heavyset Latina with brown hair pulled back, wearing a pink shirt and jeans.

DeCeja had told family members she was going to a health clinic, but she never returned home. DeCeja's husband reported her missing that night.

Neighbors said they saw DeCeja getting into her blue 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche.

The badly burned body found Dec. 2 in an almond orchard northwest of Snelling was identified Tuesday by the Merced County sheriff as DeCeja.

The Avalanche was found about seven miles away from where the burned body was found.

An unidentified baby boy was found about 6:30 a.m. Tuesday in the 4000 block of Fresno Street in Le Grand.

The baby was on the home's doorstep when a neighbor went to get his car ready for work and heard a baby crying next door.

The child was wrapped in a blanket and wedged between the front door and a security screen, MacKenzie said.

The baby was taken to Mercy Medical Center and treated for exposure. He is recovering.

Although the baby is said to resemble Anthony Ceja-Diaz, his identity hasn't been confirmed.

If anyone has any information or has seen the couple, call the Merced County Sheriff's Department at (209) 385-7472.

Reporter Ameera Butt can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or abutt@mercedsunstar.com.

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