RED SPRINGS, N.C. -- A girl who vanished at age 11 and recently turned up in Mexico -- now 15 years old, and with two children -- says she left home with an adult neighbor after becoming pregnant by him and was then kept as a virtual captive.
Before Dana Pevia came home to Raeford, N.C., this week, her family had not seen her since she walked to the school bus just after 6 a.m. on June 4, 1999. They thought she had been kidnapped, possibly killed.
But since coming home Wednesday to a tearful reunion with her mother, Dana has told authorities that she left with her neighbor, Hector Mojarro Frausto, now 22.
She had been involved with Frausto, and shortly before she disappeared she told him she had been getting sick every morning, Hoke County Sheriff Hubert Peterkin said Thursday. Frausto, suspecting Dana was pregnant, arranged for them to travel to his family home in Mexico, Peterkin said.
When she disappeared, Dana was just short of her 12th birthday. She was attending sixth grade at West Hoke Middle School.
That was the last her mother, Wanda Pevia, knew until earlier this month, when Dana showed up at the U.S. Consulate General's office in Guadalajara. Consulate officials contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which contacted the Hoke County sheriff's office.
On Wednesday night, Wanda Pevia was finally reunited with her daughter -- and her two new grandchildren -- at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
"Oh, my God, my baby, my baby," Wanda Pevia repeated as she and her daughter embraced, tears streaming down both their faces.
Dana declined to speak to reporters then or at the sheriff's Thursday news conference. But Peterkin said she told authorities that after a couple of months in Mexico, Frausto abandoned her with his relatives. They abused her and wouldn't allow her to leave, the sheriff said.
The girl tried to escape several times, he said, but each time, the family found her and brought her back to their home -- at least once at gunpoint.
"She could not go out of their sight," he said.
After a couple of years, she befriended a local worker who eventually took her away from Frausto's family and brought her to live with his own, Peterkin said. He said Dana tried to reach her mother and grandmother, but they had changed their phone numbers. Ultimately, the new family took her to the consulate's office.
Police confirmed that Frausto is the father of 3-year-old Sandra, Dana's oldest child. They would not say who is the father of 3-month-old Francisco.
Warrants have been issued charging Frausto with kidnapping and statutory rape. Police believe Frausto is in the United States.
"There's no doubt in my mind that Hector knows we're looking for him," Peterkin said.
Wanda Robertson, speaking for the family, said motherhood has given Dana Pevia a new sense of maturity but that her goals haven't changed.
"She still wants the American dream," said Robertson, Wanda Pevia's cousin. "She'll just get it in a different order. She already has the kids. The house and college will come."