California woman walking her dog in Mexico gets kidnapped, held captive for 8 months

After eight months in captivity, Monica De Leon Barba, a California woman who was kidnapped in Mexico while walking her dog, has been found alive and is on her way back home. The FBI announced that Barba is safe and en route to the United States, where she will be reunited with her family and beloved pet. The investigation into her kidnapping is ongoing, with no arrests made thus far.

Monica De Leon Barba was confronted and abducted by multiple captors on November 29, 2022, in Tepatitlán, Jalisco, Mexico. She was walking home from work with her dog, according to a statement from the FBI. The agency expressed its relief and joy at her safe return, emphasizing that the investigation is far from over. Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp stated that the FBI can now continue working on the case, knowing that an innocent victim has been reunited with her family.

In April, the FBI San Francisco office released two videos depicting the moments leading up to Barba’s kidnapping, offering a reward of up to $40,000 for any information that could aid in her recovery. The first video shows Barba walking her dog before the abduction, followed by footage of three vehicles believed to be involved: a silver Volkswagen Jetta, a gray Dodge Charger, and a white Chevrolet Suburban. The second video reveals the kidnappers in better detail. The statement from the FBI indicates that Barba was forced into a gray Volkswagen Jetta, while her dog was left loose in the street but later safely recovered by a family member.

The FBI has determined that at least five suspects were involved in Barba’s kidnapping, as shown in the video evidence. Barba reportedly spent most of her life in California before moving to Mexico for a photography job opportunity. Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp expressed gratitude towards law enforcement partners, Barba’s family, and the San Mateo community for their unwavering support and advocacy throughout the ordeal.

The safe return of Monica De Leon Barba brings immense relief to her family and friends. The FBI’s investigation into her kidnapping will continue.