Mother of Lehigh kidnapping suspect says victim fabricated story

Published: Updated:
Manual Escobar and Talhia Ortiz
Manual Escobar and Talhia Ortiz

FORT MYERS, Fla. The mother of a man facing charges in what the Lee County Sheriff’s Office called a  “a twisted story of sexual assault and much more” says he was framed.

Manuel Escobar, 32, is accused of kidnapping, beating and sexually assaulting a pregnant woman over the course of 11 days, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office said. Escobar’s girlfriend, Talhia Ortiz, 23, is 34 weeks pregnant and is accused of participating in the abuse.

Escobar and Ortiz face kidnapping and sexual battery charges, according to an arrest report. Ortiz’s bond was set at $200,000.

Escobar is facing additional charges of aggravated battery knowing the victim is pregnant, battery by strangulation, aggravated assault with a weapon, and depriving the victim of access to 911, according to a report.

His bond was set at $300,000 and he must stay away from the victim and the victim’s family.

The victim is Escobar’s ex-girlfriend, and they lived together for two years, said Escobar’s mother, Olivia.

Escobar is accused of kidnapping the pregnant victim and her 4-year-old daughter on July 6 after finding a picture of the victim with another man on her phone, according to the report.

He took them to his home on the 1200 block of Truman Avenue in Lehigh Acres and held them against her will, according to the report. He also threatened the victim with mutilation and death if she tried to leave, the report states.

The victim and her 4-year-old daughter were able to escape on July 17 when Escobar went to work without his keys, according to the report. Her condition is unclear.

Escobar’s mother says the victim got jealous of Ortiz and made the story up. Escobar told deputies the victim injured herself and was trying to blame it on him.

Their next scheduled court appearance is on Aug. 21.

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