Immigration Hold Placed on Father in Child Disappearance Case

The mother is now in Venezuela

A man charged with interfering with parental custody rights in connection with the disappearance of his 3-year-old daughter is expected to stay in custody until his trial after a judge set his bail at $250,000 and an immigration hold was placed on him Tuesday, his attorney said.

Judge Bronwyn Miller denied the prosecution’s motion to have Samuel Montes, 22, held without bond, but Montes will not be able to pay the $250,000 bond, attorney Michael Grieco said.

In any case, Grieco said, “The government has now placed an immigration hold on my client. So even if he were to try to bond out, they would still hold him in custody.”

While the girl's whereabouts remain a mystery, NBC Miami confirmed Tuesday that her mother, Vanessa Churon, is in Venezuela. Reached by phone there, she refused to answer any questions.

A realtor who rented Churon and Montes a townhouse in Cutler Bay two years ago said he knows Churon is in Venezuela because her mother called him a week ago asking for help in regards to her granddaughter's disappearance.

The realtor, who asked that his name not be used, said he thinks that the three-year-old girl is in Miami with Montes’ parents.

Montes' attorney, Grieco, said he has no information on the girl's whereabouts.

The realtor also said that the young girl’s grandmother – Churon’s mother – told him she didn’t like Churon’s relationship with Montes because he abused her.

“There has never been any evidence of abuse," Grieco responded.

Grieco said about the immigration hold put on his client Tuesday, “I find the timing of it suspect, considering we all knew how the judge was going to rule.”

A spokesman for the state attorney’s office declined to comment.

Montes and Churon lived in southwest Miami-Dade County with their young daughter until Churon left in February 2011 due to physical and emotional abuse from Montes, police said. But though Churon has custody of the daughter, Montes’ mother prevented her from taking her with her, Miami-Dade Police said.

A missing persons report was filed on March 7, 2011 for the daughter. The charge against Montes was filed eight days later, and he was arrested recently in Pensacola on a warrant.

Grieco said nobody contests that Montes is the father.

According to the warrant for Montes’ arrest, however, Montes twice told a Department of Children and Families investigator that he would deliver the daughter to the agency, but both times failed to do so, a Miami-Dade Police detective wrote.

Grieco said he would be filing a demand for a speedy trial Tuesday or Wednesday that would require the state to bring the case to trial within 50 days.

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