Kevin Cokely, NBC 5 News
Ruby Zavala, 14, was found safe Monday afternoon and the man police say abducted her is in custody, 24 hours after the search for her began.
A missing 14-year-old girl was found safe Monday in a field in Winfield, and the man accused of kidnapping her is in custody.
Ruby Zavala, 14, was taken to a hospital after she was found at about 3 p.m. She sustained minor injuries and dehydration, police said.
Police are questioning Jesus Ramirez, 23, the man suspected of abducting Zavala, her mother and her sister from a Mount Pleasant church at knifepoint on Sunday afternoon.
Zavala's family said they are happy she is safe.
"I was just relieved, just relieved," said her aunt, Jessica Palacios. "You've always heard 'hope for the best but expect the worst.' I'm really glad it was for the best and not the worst -- so very, very, very relieved and happy."
Investigators believe Ramirez used Zavala's mother's truck to take the three from St. Michael's Catholic Church in the 1400 block of East First Street at about 1 p.m.
Edgar Zavala said his mother and 3-year-old sister left church services Sunday afternoon and discovered Ramirez holding Ruby Zavala at knifepoint in the parking lot. The Zavalas said Ramirez threatened his mother and sisters and ordered them into the family's truck.
"She went to church. The dude was in the truck already with my sister with her throat and a knife," he said. "She was trying to scream. She said he said, 'Shut up, or I'll kill you. I'll stab you.'"
Edgar Zavala said Ramirez later let his mother and 3-year-old sister go after catching his mother on the phone with her husband, warning him to call police.
The truck Ramirez was believed to have been driving was found wrecked and abandoned in a wooded mining area early Monday morning.
Police got a call at about 1 p.m. about a sighting in the same field where the truck was found. Using cellphone technology, police were able to track down Ramirez and Zavala.
Investigators said Ramirez surrendered and admitted to throwing the knife somewhere in the woods. Police are searching for the knife.
During the search for Ruby Zavala, police said that they did not believe she was with Ramirez willingly.
Her family told NBC 5 that the two had dated but broke it off after Zavala's mother found out about the relationship. The breakup changed the relationship into a violent obsession, Edgar Zavala said.
"He got so mad. He didn't like it, so he was begging my sister, begging my sister," he said. "She got hit by him. It hurts me like it hurts my mom. I never thought it was going to happen right here."
Mount Pleasant Police Chief Wayne Isbell said Ramirez has a criminal record involving children.
"The suspect has already previously been charged with sexual assault of a child before," he said. "We have reason to believe he may be mentally unstable and suicidal."
Ramirez pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a second-degree felony, in 2007. He was given deferred adjudication and spent five years on probation.
He is expected to be charged with aggravated assault and three counts of kidnapping.
NBC 5's Ray Villeda and Kevin Cokely contributed to this report.