Little Jessica Cortez Found Unharmed Female Suspect Arrested

August 14, 2002


Los Angeles: On August 13, 2002, at approximately 5:10 PM, Southwest Area patrol officers responded to a "lost child found" radio call at the Saint John’s Well Child Center located at 514 West Adams Blvd. Patricia Cornejo, age 34, had brought Jessica Cortez to the clinic to be treated for a sore throat that Jessica had complained of. While at the clinic a female employee recognized Jessica who was registered under a different name. She asked Jessica what her name was and she responded "Jessica". Believing this was the kidnapped girl the employee called 911. Robbery-Homicide Division detectives also responded and interviewed employees and patients. Patricia Cornejo was transported to Parker Center for further investigation. Cornejo was cooperative in the interview and stated she took Jessica from the playground area of Echo Park and kept her at her residence. On Tuesday afternoon Jessica complained of a sore throat and Cornejo took her to the clinic.
Two residences in South Los Angeles were searched in connection with the investigation. Search warrants were served at residences located in the 4100 block of South Main Street and the 400 block of West 91St Street. Evidence was recovered including clothing similar to what Jessica was wearing when she was abducted. Also, cut hair believed to be Jessica’s was also recovered.
The victim was unknown to the suspect prior to the incident. A medical examination determined that Jessica suffered no injuries nor was she a victim of sexual assault. The investigation is not focusing on any other suspects. Patricia Cornejo has no known criminal history. The motive for the abduction has not been established.
Patricia Cornejo was booked for Kidnapping at 77th Area Jail. She is being held on $500,000.00 bail. The case will be presented to the District Attorney’s Office on August 15, 2002 and the arraignment is scheduled for the afternoon of August 15th.
This press release was prepared by Sergeant John Pasquariello, LAPD Media Relations Section, 213-485-3586.