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Florida Kids Found Unharmed With Mother

July 1, 2003

BONIFAY, Fla. (AP) _ Two toddlers were found unharmed Monday about 16 hours after they were taken by their mother, who drove her car through a sliding glass door at their grandmother’s house and abducted them, authorities said.

Lorena Montano, 3, and Moises Montano, 2, were found Monday evening in a motel in Bonifay, north of Panama City in the Florida Panhandle, police said. They were examined at a local hospital and were awaiting reunion with their grandmother.

``I will try to make everything natural because they have already suffered enough,″ said the grandmother, Nora Sarria. ``I will try to control my tears and I will try to be happy with them.″

The children’s mother, Nora Montano, 32, was taken into custody and a warrant was being prepared to arrest her on charges of kidnapping and robbery home invasion, said Miramar police officer Bill Robertson.

The children’s biological father, Jose Montano, was detained for questioning without incident in the motel room where the children had been sleeping.

``They seemed to be in good health. They were asleep. Once they woke up, they ran to the officers and seemed to be in good spirits,″ Holmes County Sheriff’s officer Steven Lee said.

Earlier Monday, police said Nora Montano and a man wearing camouflage and a ski mask rushed into the home and took the children.

Authorities issued a national Amber Alert shortly afterward.

``It looked like she was on an Army mission,″ said Sarria, who is Nora Montano’s mother. ``It seems she was planning the whole thing for a long time.″

Both Nora and Karla Sarria, the childrens’ aunt, fought with the man.

``I jumped on his back, and I was grabbing and pulling him away from the children,″ said Karla Sarria.

Nora Sarria has had custody of the children since January under a Glynn County, Ga., court order.

Montano is in the Army, assigned to the 187th Medical Battalion, 32nd Medical Brigade, based at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio.

Police believe the man may be Montano’s ex-husband. Nora Sarria said she didn’t recognize him.

Before the children were found, Nora Sarria said she was worried because of Montano’s psychological condition.

``When someone is bipolar, they have no control over their emotions. Sometimes children do things that make you angry. And that’s why I’m worrying,″ the grandmother said.

In May, Nora Montano was withdrawn from a training course for the medical logistics and supply specialty, Phil Reidinger, a spokesman for the post, said before the children were found. He would not say why.

Nora Sarria said she obtained a restraining order against Montano last year because the daughter was aggressive and threatened her.

The family said they are selling their house in Miramar and planned to move this month because they feared for their safety due to Montano’s instability.

``We should have done this a long time ago. Maybe all of this wouldn’t have happened,″ Karla Sarria said.

Amber Alerts are named after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl abducted and later found murdered in Texas. They are bulletins, distributed through radio and television broadcasts and electronic highway signs, on kidnapped children and their abductors.

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Associated Press writer Catherine Wilson in Miami contributed to this report.

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On the Net:

Florida Department of Law Enforcement Alert: http://www.fdle.state.fl.us/alerts/lorena_montano.html

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