Two Merced sisters abducted over the weekend were described Tuesday by family as “good kids,” straight-A students and “loving girls” caught up in a situation they don’t deserve.
The girls, Lyza Martinez, 11, and 12-year-old Drea Martinez, were supposed to be returned to their father, Jose Martinez, by Sunday evening after spending the day with their mother, Rene Snider, police said. The mother failed to return them and the family hasn’t heard from her.
The family said Snider has been diagnosed with mental health issues. The girls’ father said, in a similar incident in 2009, Snider took the girls to England.
“They were (living) on the street,” the 38-year-old Martinez told the Sun-Star on Tuesday. “She’s not able to be there and take care of them the way they need to be.”
The family is asking for help from anyone who may spot Snider or the girls. Denise Sawyer, 56, of Atwater, Snider’s mother, said her daughter has been diagnosed with a borderline antisocial personality disorder.
Go to a hospital. Bring them back. We know you love them, but this isn’t right.
Denise Sawyer, the mother of Rene Snider, who reportedly abducted two sisters
She appealed to her daughter. “Go to a hospital. Bring them back,” Sawyer said, referring to her granddaughters. “We know you love them, but this isn’t right.”
The girls’ stepmother, Tabitha Martinez, described Drea as an outgoing athlete who plays basketball, while Lyza tends to be quiet and artistic. Both Drea, a seventh-grader at Hoover Middle School, and Lyza, a sixth-grader at Ada Givens Elementary, are good students and involved in student government, the 34-year-old said.
The father said he’s had full custody of the girls for about a year, and Snider is allowed visitation rights under certain parameters. He said he is worried about the children.
“We don’t know if they’re safe,” he said. “Just because they’re with a parent doesn’t (necessarily) mean they are safe.”
Sitting in the Martinez family home was the girls’ other grandmother, Araceli Sandoval. Asked about her granddaughters, the 55-year-old’s eyes welled up with tears and she said she was too emotional to speak.
She’s not able to be there and take care of them the way they need to be.
Jose Martinez, the abducted girls’ father
Merced police detectives say the parental abduction is considered an “endangered priority.” Investigators are working with the FBI, the California Highway Patrol, and state Attorney General’s office and the Justice Department, Detective Joseph Henderson said.
“We’re working on several things in this case,” Henderson said, but declined to elaborate, saying he needed to protect the investigation. “We’re hoping tips from citizens will come in.”
Sawyer said the girls have been through difficult times in the last decade, adding she hopes the most recent events don’t traumatize them.
“They’re good kids,” she said. “For what they’ve been through, they are good kids.”
Police believe Snider may be traveling with the girls in a black 2004 Chevrolet Aveo sedan, California license plate number 5YWX311.