Court documents shed light on recent Utah AMBER Alert involving mother, grandmother

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Posted at 2:29 AM, Apr 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 10:38:49-04

SOUTH SALT LAKE, Utah — Documents from the arrests of two Utah women last week show what happened when they allegedly kidnapped two young children, triggering an AMBER Alert.

Yaneli Morales Murillo, age 22, was arrested last Wednesday on two felony counts of child kidnapping, two felony counts of obstructing justice, and two counts of misdemeanor child abuse with physical injury.

Her mother, 38-year-old Maria Murillo Alvarez, was arrested on two counts each of child kidnapping and obstructing justice. Neither of them had been officially charged in court as of Tuesday.

On the morning of April 20, Murillo had a custody hearing for her two children, who are two years old and two months old. In the hearing, a judge revoked Murillo's custody of the kids and ordered that they be turned over to the Division of Child and Family Services.

Court documents state that one of the children was "born drug dependent," and Murillo had recently tested positive for drugs. In addition, Murillo told police following her arrest later that day that she smoked methamphetamine after learning that the state was taking her children, but before she left her home with them.

When DCFS caseworkers arrived at Murillo's home in South Salt Lake after the hearing, she and the kids were gone. They got in touch with her over the phone and learned that she was with Alvarez (her mother).

Both women refused to turn the children over to DCFS, and Murillo checked her two younger siblings, ages 10 and 12, out from school that morning. She told police she did this at the request of her mother, who feared the state might take them as well.

During caseworkers' communications with the two women, they received a text from Alvarez's phone number that read: "Because of what they did to me, I'm here, that was the help they gave me, Because the children didn't let me, and I did it wrong so that you made me kill the children, and I failed them."

DCFS caseworkers believed that although the message came from Alvarez's phone, Murillo had written it because Alvarez only spoke Spanish.

However, in an interview with police after her arrest, Murillo said her mother had written it but her words were likely mistranslated due to possibly using Google Translate.

"[Murillo] said [Alvarez] was trying to tell DCFS that she didn't trust them and would not turn over the children," the arrest report said.

After learning of this message, police issued the AMBER Alert, which included both women, Murillo's two children, and Alvarez's 10- and 12-year-old children (Murillo's siblings).

After the alert, Murillo reportedly contacted a DCFS caseworker and told them she was upset that the children were put on the news. She said she would turn herself in, but not the kids or her mother.

Eventually, Murillo sent her location to DCFS, which was then sent to police. Caseworkers said Murillo's attorney advised her to wait with the children on the porch of the West Valley City home where they were allegedly hiding. Police went to the location and found both women and all four children.

Murillo and Alvarez were then arrested, and both are being detained without bail.