The South Florida mother who went on the run after allegedly secretly taking her son from his Cutler Bay school and her boyfriend have been arrested in California, a Miami-Dade Schools Police spokesperson said Thursday night.
Carrie Weingarth and Christian Coello were arrested in Barstow, California, and Weingarth's three children are safe, according to Miami-Dade Schools Police spokesperson Gemma Carrillo.
Miami-Dade Schools Police said they are working to reunite the children with their father. Weingarth and Coello will be brought to Florida in reference to their warrants, police said.
At a court hearing Friday, a Miami-Dade judge ordered Weingarth to stay away from the children. That means no visits at home or at school.
Weingarth and Coello face kidnapping charges in the case.
Earlier Thursday, Weingarth's sister made a tearful plea for her to return to South Florida.
"I just want you to come home," Melissa Weingarth said at a news conference. "I want your kids to be safe. We just want to help you."
Carrie Weingarth became the subject of a multi-state search after she walked into Gulfstream Elementary School last Friday, Feb. 14 and without authorization from school officials and the father of 12-year-old Erin Pena, took him and disappeared along with his two brothers.
Authorities say Erin Pena and his two younger brothers, Steven, age 8, and Derick, age 7, were with Weingarth, who was in the company of her boyfriend, Coello.
They were traveling in a 2014 Jeep Patriot, dark blue in color, with Florida tag 476HXS, that was rented at the Jacksonville Airport Enterprise, police said.
Police said that Weingarth was spotted earlier this week heading west in Louisiana.
Father Steven Pena, who had custody of Erin, said he and Weingarth were in the middle of an ongoing custody dispute. Weingarth had custody of Steven and Derick, until a Friday custody hearing that gave father Steven Pena full custody of the younger children.
Police visited Steven Pena's southwest Miami-Dade home Thursday night to tell him his kids had been found.
“They told me that they have good news for me, that they got her in custody and that they were bringing my kids home," he said. "I cried. I didn’t know how to express it.”
Pena was elated that his boys were safe. Weingarth's grandmother, Lillian Weingarth, was relieved as well. She wondered about the actions of her granddaughter.
“I just hope that she thinks over the situation, and it’s probably just something out of stupidity that she did. You know, she's probably sorry that she did it," she said.
Lillian Weingarth said her daughter probably acted out of frustration.
"She loved the kids and she was just tired of all the hassle, just plain tired of it all," she said.
Earlier Thursday, private detective Joe Carrillo, who is helping Weingarth's family, promised that if Weingarth came home she would have legal representation and support.
Steven Pena told NBC 6 that he was glad that the plea went out from the Weingarth family. He says it has been hell without his kids and claims police have not kept him informed on the status of the investigation.