Missing girl located and reunited with her family

OKEECHOBEE – On Saturday afternoon a girl who had been reported missing was located and reunited with her family, due to efforts from the community and investigation from the Okeechobee County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO). The juvenile was initially reported missing on Friday, July 13.

Evi Serrano-Mojica, 36, Northeast 64th Avenue, Okeechobee, was arrested July 15 by Deputy Matthew Huffman on felony charges of possession of ammunition by convicted felon, interference with custody, possession of a controlled substance (methamphetamine) without a valid prescription and misdemeanor charges of possession of a controlled substance (cannabis) without a valid prescription and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond was set at $52,000.

On July 14, OCSO Deputy Matthew Huffman responded to a Northeast First Street home in regards to information on a recently reported runaway.
Deputy Huffman met with the complainant who reportedly informed him that she received a text message from someone that said they had recently seen her missing granddaughter in the drive-through line of Taco Bell within the past few nights. She was supposedly seen with a short, Hispanic male who drove a dark colored Dodge pickup truck. The woman said she knew of someone who went by the name of “Evi” who matched that description. He was later identified by law enforcement as Serrano-Mojica.

The woman reported that she was familiar with Serrano-Mojica. She alleged he attempted to have an inappropriate physical relationship with her juvenile granddaughter in the past. The woman said that both individuals, Serrano-Mojica and her granddaughter, continuously attempted to contact one another with Serrano-Mojica leaving gifts for the juvenile. The woman provided an address which was then relayed to OCSO dispatch that provided a possible address in the 400 block of Northeast 64th Avenue.

The report then stated that Deputy Huffman proceeded to the residence provided by dispatch in an effort to make contact with Serrano-Mojica. As he approached the residence, Deputy Huffman reported that after he knocked on the door he heard Serrano-Mojica tell him to “hold on” along with an unknown female who spoke to Serrano-Mojica in an indiscernible voice. After a few moments Serrano-Mojica opened the door and when inquired about his identity provided the name of “Evi,” which was known to the grandmother and reported to Deputy Huffman.

As Deputy Huffman spoke with Serrano-Mojica about his knowledge of the missing girl he noticed multiple red marks on the left and ride side of his neck. Deputy Huffman then inquired as to where the female’s voice that he heard originated from and if he could speak with the individual, as he did not see one present while he spoke with Serrano-Mojica. Deputy Huffman also noticed what appeared to be a small handmade cigarette from behind Serrano-Mojica’s left ear. He also reported that he could smell the odor of cannabis.

According to the report, Serrano-Mojica became increasingly agitated by Deputy Huffman’s questions and began to act nervously. Deputy Huffman the requested for additional law enforcement personnel to assist. Serrano-Mojica was reportedly informed of the possible ramifications of possessing cannabis and possibly withholding the missing runaway. Deputy Kenneth Hernandez soon arrived at the residence to provide assistance to Deputy Huffman.

Deputy Hernandez was able to locate the runaway in a bedroom. The juvenile reported to Deputy Huffman the reason she ran away from home was because while she was away at the movie theater a disturbance had occurred at her residence. Deputy Huffman then transported the juvenile to her guardian and left Deputy Hernandez and Deputy Corporal Bryan Lowe on scene with Serrano-Mojica for further questioning.

Cpl. Lowe contacted Deputy Huffman and informed him that after he left to reunite the grandmother and granddaughter, Serrano-Mojica turned over a magazine of live .223 caliber ammunition. After being detained and searched incident to arrest, a glass pipe with suspected methamphetamine residue, SD card container with a small orange bag suspected to contain methamphetamine and a cigar wrapper with suspected cannabis were collected.

The report concluded that all of the above field tested positive for the presence of methamphetamine and cannabis. All evidence was collected, packaged and labeled at the OCSO and will be sent to the Indian River Crime Laboratory for further analysis. OCSO Detective Sergeant Jimmy Mills was notified of the arrest and suspected inappropriate relationship between the juvenile and Serrano-Mojica, with further investigation pending. Serrano-Mojica was arrested, transported and booked into the Okeechobee County Jail.

The Lake Okeechobee News is published every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday and now includes news from around the lake every Wednesday.

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