A California woman who was kidnapped for eight months in Mexico was finally picked up from a gas station in the state of Jalisco after being released by her captors following months of tense negotiations, her family has revealed.
The father of Monica De Leon Barba confirmed his daughter is “doing good” to The Post Monday, but said it will take a long time to adjust following her harrowing ordeal.
“Right now, she doesn’t even want to talk about that,” said Gustavo De Leon, Sr. “The only thing we have to say is thank God that she’s back, and trying to get back to normal life as much as possible.”
Barba arrived in California on Friday with her brother, Gustavo Jr., after the 30-year old had called her family from the gas station after being released.
Barba had been kidnapped in November while she was walking her dog, Asa, in Jalisco, which is on the state department’s ‘reconsider travel’ list due to crime and kidnappings.
Her father couldn’t comment on many details of the case, but said his daughter’s safe return was a joint effort between the FBI, Mexican authorities and “anonymous teams.”
“She was released in the middle of nowhere, and they asked somebody to let her use the phone so she could call us,” the relieved father said.
Gustavo Sr. said his son was already in Mexico at the time frantically keeping up with the investigation and searching for his sister.
Both siblings flew back to the bay area around San Francisco in Northern California together for a tearful reunion with their parents.
“She approached me crying and I was crying,” Gustavo Sr. said. “We gave each other a big, silent hug and that was it. I felt complete again. Even my wife has been singing again!”
The doting dad said his daughter has so far refused to take therapy services offered by the FBI.
She has also yet to fully divulge the details of what she endured during the eight months held captive even to her loved ones.
“She looks good and she just wants to see her friends,” he said. “She doesn’t want [therapy] right now, but she knows all of her options. She is OK and we’re not going to force anything. Whatever she wants or needs … it’s whatever she wants right now.”
The FBI offered a $40,000 reward for tips leading to Barba’s whereabouts.
Her family and friends also launched a social media campaign asking anyone who might have information to come forward.
FBI released chilling video of Barba, which showed her walking her dog before three cars passed by her. Her captors then jumped out and forced her into one of the vehicles before speeding off.
Barba’s dog was recovered by a stranger, who was eventually able to reach the family and arrange for her to be given back to them.
FBI officials in April said they believed Barba was being held hostage and her kidnappers had been in touch with the family.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Tripp told FOX 2 San Francisco the case was “a targeted kidnapping.”
“The FBI investigation is far from over, but we can now work this case knowing an innocent victim is reunited with her family,” Tripp said in a statement on Saturday.
“For the past eight months, FBI personnel in California and Mexico have worked tirelessly with the family and with partners here and in Mexico. Our relief and joy at the safe return of Monica is profound.”
So far no one has been arrested or charged with the kidnapping. FBI authorities were on hand at the airport when Barba and her brother arrived back in California.
Gustavo Sr. said he was overwhelmed with the amount of support their family has received over the past months. Their focus is now on his daughter’s recovery.
“She’s happy to be with [Asa] and she looks good,” the relieved father said. “No matter how old she gets, she’s always going to be three years old to me.”
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