Merced police are searching for two young sisters who were taken Sunday night by their biological mother and are believed to be “endangered.”
“I’m considering this a parental abduction and writing a warrant for (the mother), charging her with two counts of child abduction and one count of violating a court order,” Detective Joseph Henderson said in a telephone interview.
The girls, Lyza Martinez, 11, and 12-year-old Drea Martinez, were supposed to be returned to their father, Jose Martinez, by 7 p.m. Sunday after visiting with their mother, Rene Snider, for the day, police said.
“They were not brought back, and their father contacted us almost immediately,” Henderson said.
Detective Sgt. Curt Gorman said the incident “doesn’t quite meet the criteria for an Amber Alert,” but said the situation is considered an “endangered missing persons priority,” and notifications have been sent to law enforcement agencies statewide.
Police are working with the FBI to locate the girls.
“This has happened before,” Henderson said. “We don’t know where they are right now. Any tips or information from (the public) would be greatly appreciated.”
The girls’ stepmother, Tabitha Martinez, said Snider took the girls to England in 2009 during a similar incident.
“We want them to know that we miss them and we love them and we want them home safely,” Martinez told the Sun-Star. “We hope people, if they see them, will contact law enforcement immediately.”
Police said the 2009 incident raises red flags for investigators. They also said Snider violated a court order when she didn’t bring the girls home Sunday.
“She’d also been ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, and she didn’t believe she would pass that evaluation and would then lose all contact with her daughters,” Henderson said.
Police believe Snider may be traveling with the girls in a black 2004 Chevrolet Aveo sedan, California license plate number 5YWX311.