Police: 3 Florida kids found safe; 2 in custody

Mother, boyfriend taken into custody in Barstow, Calif.


BARSTOW, Calif. – Two people have been taken into custody, and three Florida children who went missing have been found safe, according to the Miami-Dade Public Schools Police Department.

Police said Erin Pena, 12, Steven Pena, 8, and Derick Pena, 7, were abducted from Gulfstream Elementary School during lunch last Friday.

Carrie Weingarth and her boyfriend, Christian Coello, were apprehended and taken into custody Thursday in Barstow, Calif. Police said Weingarth and Coello took the three children against their will.


WPLG-TV reports federal prosecutors issued arrest warrants for Weingarth, the mother of the missing children, and her boyfriend, Coello, on charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution

Weingarth was previously last seen traveling west in a 2014 Jeep Patriot with the children in the Walker, La., area. Police said the Jeep was rented in Jacksonville.

Miami-Dade Schools police called Barstow authorities, alerting them that they had information that the family may have been traveling through Barstow, Calif. A Barstow officer then spotted the car and stopped it, officials said.

Police said Weingarth and Coello were then taken into custody and the three children are OK and unharmed.

Weingarth's sister, Melissa Weingarth, spoke at a news conference held Thursday morning.

"Carrie, I just want you to come home and I want your kids to be safe," Melissa Weingarth said.

The family hired a private investigator to help find Carrie Weingarth and bring her home.

"I know that Carrie loves her children very much and would not hurt them," private investigator Joe Carillo said.

Carillo described the 32-year-old Homestead woman as a mother who has struggled to provide for her children and was denied financial assistance.