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Child Taken in Stolen Auto Reunited with Family

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MERCED – The parents of a three year old girl who was taken with their car as it was stolen were relieved to have their child back home Monday night.

The incident happened at about 6:45pm on the 400 block of West 27th Street, as Melissa Foster was preparing to take her Toyota Corolla to a car wash.

“I took one second just to run back to my porch to grab my purse,” Foster said. “In that split second, my mom saw the car door open and close.”

Someone had jumped into the car and began driving off with it. Melissa’s three year old daughter Jessie Sanchez, or “JJ” as she is affectionately called, was still inside. Melissa chased after the car on foot for two blocks before the vehicle was able to get away.

She believed whoever took her car and her daughter had been watching and waiting for her.

Police searched the surrounding neighborhood for any sign of the the stolen vehicle and the child.

“Commonly when someone steals a car and finds a child inside they (the suspect) will usually abandon the car within three or four blocks,” said Captain Jay Struble with the Merced Police Department. “Unfortunately this was not the case here.”

As time continued to pass with no sign of the car or the child, authorities issued an Amber Alert. Photos of the car and child were posted and shared to social media sites to help the word spread.

At about 8:45pm, the California Highway Patrol received a call from a citizen saying they saw the vehicle parked at a Chevron in Chowchilla. Authorities responded and found the vehicle abandoned with the child inside. Officers had to force entry into the vehicle to gain access, but found the child was unharmed and uninjured.

Detectives with the Merced Police Department, officers with Chowchilla Police and California Highway Patrol, as well as a K-9 from the Merced County Sheriff’s Office searched the area for any signs of a suspect. Monday night there was no word of an arrest.

Captain Struble said investigators were looking at surveillance video from the area, but they can only make out what appeared to be a male figure.

Jessie was brought home and reunited with her family in Merced shortly before 9:30pm. To brighten her spirits, Officer Rogelio Rodriguez bought her lollipops to enjoy on the drive home.

“She was very excited to see her mom and dad when she got back.”

The parents expressed their gratitude for the authorities involved in searching for little Jessie, and thankful for the public and Amber Alert system that made everything in this incident work out.

“Your mind is just a fog in that moment,” the child’s mother said of the two hours waiting while police searched for the girl. “I know she’s so strong and so brave.”

Carlos Rodriguez is an Emmy Award winning photojournalist specializing in public safety and natural disasters. His passion for local news stems from a deep commitment to his community, with a selfless mission to inform the citizens of the valley. As he worked on assignment for 19 days at the devastating Camp Fire in Paradise, California, he spent most of his time helping survivors contact their loved ones to let them know they were ok. Carlos is a veteran of Univision, FOX, and Telemundo TV stations and a native of Modesto, California.

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Domestic Abuse Investigation Leads to Discovery of Puppy Mill

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MODESTO – Detectives with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Special Investigations Unit served a warrant on a property in relation to a domestic abuse case, leading to the discovery of nearly 150 dogs inside a duplex Thursday afternoon.

The incident happened at a property near the intersection of Roselawn and South Avenues. Investigators were in the process of serving a warrant related to the investigation that began April 30th.

The victim in the case allegedly suffered burns from a butane torch, was beaten with an ash tray, and even had a shock collar placed on her. She was able to escape and call for help. According to a neighbor, several deputies in patrol cars arrived at the home and called for someone to come out of the home, but later left. The neighbor said he saw the resident exit the home at a later time. Authorities opted not to confront the suspect that time to reduce the chances of a violent outcome.

Detectives with the Special Investigations Unit picked up the case and arrested 38 year old Nicholas Dean Baugh at his mother’s house in Modesto.

The puppies were discovered as detectives served the warrant on the duplex. A fire briefly ignited at the home, but was quickly extinguished by deputies. Firefighters with Burbank-Paradise Fire Department responded to ensure the fire was completely out.

Nearly 150 dogs were found in the home. One of them died as a result of the fire, which was said to have started on the stove.

Baugh was booked into the Stanislaus County Jail on several charges including domestic violence, assault with a deadly weapon, torture, rooster fighting, and 146 counts of animal abuse. A hold was also placed on his bail, indicating if funds for bail come from suspected criminal activity, they would not be accepted.

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Several Detained Near Homicide Scene

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STOCKTON – Police have detained several persons of interest in connection to Sunday’s homicide.

Shortly before 5:00pm officers with the Stockton Police Department were involved in a vehicle pursuit in the area of West Lane and Knickerbocker Drive. The area is near where a 20 year old man was fatally shot Sunday afternoon.

Officials said they had detained several persons of interest in relation to the case.

The shopping center where Sunday’s homicide took place has been the location of previous shootings and at least one more homicide this year.

Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact the Stockton Police Department at (209) 937-8377 or Crime Stoppers at (209) 946-0600 where callers can remain anonymous.

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First lunar eclipse of the year visible across the valley

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RIPON – The lunar eclipse takes place only during a full moon when Earth is in between the sun and moon, casting a shadow on the surface of the moon. The bright colored moon which attracts spectators is only seen once every 1.5 years, estimated by NASA.

The lunar eclipse was estimated to begin its deep penumbral stage at 7:15pm on May 15, 2022. By 7:59pm it should have reached the 50% partial stage. Totality began at 8:29pm and the full color everyone was waiting to see occurred at around 9:11pm. That rare sight began to end by 9:54pm. It was 50% partial by 10:23pm and reached its deep penumbral stage by 11:10pm where it ended.

Weather for the total lunar eclipse in some areas caused some to miss out on the rare occurrence. In Ripon and Stockton light cloud coverage crossed the mid stages of the eclipse. Meanwhile in some Modesto areas it was visible. National Weather Service estimated the temperature to be in the mid 60s to upper 70s for the valley.

Although a total lunar eclipse occurs only around every 1.5 years, your next opportunity to see it again will be November 7th 2022 going on to the eighth.

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