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Ex-Boyfriend Charged in Abduction

November 11, 2000

READING, Pa. (AP) _ The body of an 8-year-old girl who disappeared last month was found in a shallow grave behind an elementary school, and her mother’s ex-boyfriend has been charged with kidnapping the girl, police said.

Erica Martes disappeared Oct. 24 and was last seen with the ex-boyfriend, Marcial Sosa, 34, who allegedly took her from school on the pretext of a doctor’s appointment. Police dogs sniffed out the body behind another school on Thursday.

Berks County Coroner Mike Feeney, who conducted an autopsy Friday, said the child died the day she was abducted. He refused to release the cause of death until completing tests on bruises on the body.

Reading Police Capt. Francis F. Drexler said additional charges were pending but refused further comment. Sosa was arrested in Philadelphia on Tuesday and is being held in Berks County jail in lieu of $1 million bail, authorities said. No lawyer has been assigned to the case.

Sosa had a five-year relationship and lived with Erica’s mother, 27-year-old Nancy Lopez, and the couple had broken up before the girl was abducted, Drexler said. Police said Sosa kidnapped the girl to use as leverage in reconciling with the mother.

``He was almost like a surrogate father to her,″ Drexler said.

He said Sosa had attended school functions and had even went to parent-teacher sessions.

The child was waiting in line to get into school on the day she vanished when Sosa showed up and ``said something to the effect that (Erica) had a doctor’s appointment,″ Drexler said.

``That was nothing unusual. He was with the girl quite a bit,″ Drexler said. ``Absolutely no blame can be put on the school; they would have no reason not to allow her to go with him.″

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