The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 28, 2012

Woman, children missing from foster home

County has temporary custody of two children

By Dan Nienaber
The Free Press

MANKATO — Blue Earth County sheriff's deputies are attempting to find a 21-year-old woman who left a family foster care center Tuesday afternoon.

People running the foster care center called authorities to report Reina Marie Gandarilla had left the facility with her 2-year-old son, Issiah, and 4-month-old daughter, Iyanna. Gandarilla and her children had been living at the facility for about two weeks, said Capt. Rich Murry of the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Department.

“We’re concerned about the safety of the children, but we don’t believe the children are in any danger from her,” Murry said.

Gandarilla did not have a vehicle, so deputies don’t know at this point how she is traveling.

Deputies have checked with Gandarilla’s acquaintances in the Mankato area and had some leads Wednesday morning, but nothing solid, Murry said. She is originally from the Chicago area, so authorities are checking to see if she has contact with family and friends there.

Blue Earth County had taken temporary custody of Gandarilla’s children. She and the children were placed in a rural foster care facility with the goal of having Gandarilla take custody of the children again.

A felony charge of violating a court custody order along with a warrant for her arrest were issued by a Blue Earth County District Court judge Wednesday afternoon.

County officials first became concerned about Gandarilla and her children in September. They received a report that she and the children were homeless and had been living with a cousin in Mankato. Her cousin had left for Chicago, saying she would return in a week but didn’t return, the report said. Gandarilla wouldn’t leave the rental property even though her cousin was the only person named on the lease.

Deputies eventually met a landlord at the property in early October to remove Gandarilla because the lease had ended. Gandarilla and her children were found inside. The children were not properly cleaned and the apartment had rotten food and dirty dishes inside.

A judge placed the children in foster care in October. Whole family foster care, which allowed Gandarilla to live with the children, was arranged earlier this month, according to court records.

Anyone with information is being asked to call 911 if in the Mankato area. Anyone outside the Mankato area or Blue Earth County should call authorities at 507-387-5601.