A child abuse investigation has sparked a search for a missing California teenager, after her younger siblings reported that she hasn’t been seen in approximately a decade.
Authorities in Mexico were initially investigating a report of alleged child abuse of a 17-year-old girl and 15-year-old boy when the siblings told them that their older sister, Kaya Centeno, had been missing for eight to 10 years and had “not been heard from or seen since,” Rohnert Park police said in a statement.
The children said they had been living with extended family in Mexico for a year and a half after being brought to the country from their Rohnert Park, California home by their adoptive parents, Gina and Jose Centeno.
With the help of the FBI and the U.S. Embassy and Child Protective Services, the children were brought to Sonoma County where they could be forensically interviewed by Rohnert Park detectives about their missing sibling and their alleged abuse at the hands of their adoptive parents.
“After interviewing the children, there were allegations of emotional, sexual and physical abuse that had occurred over an eight to ten year period of time,” police said.
The teenagers told police that their older sister Kaya, who may also go by the name Kaya Kazzee, used to live with the family in Rohnert Park after all three siblings were adopted in 2008 by the Centenos.
But Kaya disappeared roughly a decade ago.
She had been enrolled at John Reed School in Rohnert Park before her parents removed her in the second grade—during the 2010-2011 school year—and told school officials they planned to home school her instead, police said.
Police obtained a search warrant for the home where the alleged abuse had taken place and found “evidence to corroborate the victim’s statements about the abuse” and arrested Gina and Jose Centeno for aggravated kidnapping, authorities said.
Police are now trying to determine what may have happened to Kaya, who would now be 18 years old; they released a digitally enhanced and age-progressed photo of what she might look today that was created with the help of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
“We want to find Kaya,” Sgt. Keith Astley told The Press Democrat. “We want to hear from anybody who knows Kaya. Have they seen Kaya? When was the last time they saw Kaya? Kaya was in the household and then she was not.”
Kaya’s siblings told authorities they were given an explanation for what happened to their missing sister, but Sgt. Astley declined to release any details about what they had been told.
After sending the teenage siblings to live with relatives in Mexico, the Centenos—who were estranged—opted to stay behind in Sonoma County, Astley said. Gina Centeno was living with a set of twins the couple had also adopted at the time of her arrest.
Police are now trying to determine whether the twins had also been victims of abuse, Astley told the local paper.
Gina and Jose Centeno were arrested Aug. 19 and are now facing a series of charges including felony torture and other crimes, according to a 14-count complaint obtained by the paper.
Jose Centeno is facing an additional nine felony counts for his suspected sexual abuse of his 17-year-old adopted daughter.
If convicted, both could face a life sentence.
They are being held in Sonoma County Jail on an $18 million bond.
Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact the Rohnert Park Department of Public Safety at 707-584-2612.
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