Willmar man admits kidnapping 8-month-old baby from ex-girlfriend

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WILLMAR, Minn. — A Willmar man who worked on a nearby dairy farm pleaded guilty Wednesday to kidnapping an 8-month-old baby in February from his ex-girlfriend.

Angel Esparza-Mendez, 23, also known as Angel Esparza and Pedro Xavier Rivera-Lopez, has been held in the Kandiyohi County Jail in Willmar on $250,000 bail since his arrest Feb. 24.

He is to be sentenced on the felony kidnapping with intent to terrorize conviction June 30.

According to court records, the child’s mother told authorities that she came out of the shower the evening of Feb. 23 to find Esparza-Mendez gone along with her baby girl. He is not the child’s father. She told authorities she called him repeatedly through the night, but he said he would not bring her daughter back unless she agreed to return to their relationship.

He also threatened that if she spoke to police, he would take the baby to Mexico and she would not see the baby again.

The baby was later found safe Feb. 24 at the home of a third party in Willmar. Because Esparza-Mendez was believed to be dealing meth and to carry handguns, agents of an area Drug and Gang Task Force went to the dairy farm where he worked and arrested him later on Feb. 24.