Suspect in Fresno kidnapping arrested in VC; victim found safe |

Suspect in Fresno kidnapping arrested in VC; victim found safe

by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer
Ester Nieves

VIRGINIA CITY – The suspect in what’s been described as a “bloody kidnapping” out of Fresno County, Calif., was arrested in Virginia City on Friday by Storey County deputies after the FBI traced a phone call by the victim to her mother from a C Street pay phone.

Juan Carlos Martinez, 18, of San Jose, was arrested on suspicion of felony kidnapping in the 300 block of C Street about 5:10 p.m. Ester Nieves was found unharmed.

Martinez allegedly kidnapped Nieves, his estranged girlfriend, from her family home Tuesday night in Reedley, Calif., according to Fresno County Sheriff’s officials.

According to police, Martinez and the girl’s 15-year-old nephew allegedly forced their way into Nieves’ bedroom, and when other members of Nieves’ family tried to intervene, Martinez threatened to kill them.

Both suspects then forced the pregnant victim, whom Martinez allegedly knocked unconscious, out of a broken bedroom window and into a waiting vehicle parked in front of the house, a news release from Fresno County states. During the kidnapping, one of the suspects cut himself severely on the broken window.

The nephew was arrested in San Jose on Thursday where authorities also recovered the vehicle used in the kidnapping.

Storey County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ken Quirk said investigators from the Reno office of the FBI called at 5 p.m. asking officers to respond to a pay phone on C Street from where Nieves had placed a phone call to her mother.

Quirk said officers “saturated the area,” and Sgt. Jason Dias began questioning a female whom he spotted acting suspicious nearby.

When the woman’s story didn’t jibe, Dias said, he allowed her to return to her car and a traffic stop was made moments later as the 1998 Saturn made its way out of town.

Martinez was arrested without incident.

In the vehicle was Nieves, Martinez’s cousin, Juan Ramirez, 30, and Ramirez’s girlfriend Damariz Michi, who was the female previously questioned. They also had an 8-month-old child belonging to Ramirez and Michi.

Martinez was booked into the Storey County Jail on suspicion of felony kidnapping. Both Michi and Ramirez are being held on suspicion of accessory to kidnapping.

Investigators with the Fresno County Sheriff’s Department flew into Reno on Friday night. Nieves’ family was also reportedly en route to Virginia City.

• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at or 881-1213.