- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 25, 2007

MIAMI (AP) — A 13-year-old boy bound to a tree in the woods foiled a kidnapping-for-ransom plan by using a safety pin, his teeth and his hands to escape, police said yesterday.

Investigators searched a Bradenton house early yesterday and issued an arrest warrant for Vicente Ignacio Beltran Moreno, 22, but authorities suspect he has fled the state.

A truck fitting the description of the one used in the kidnapping was found outside a home thought to be Mr. Beltran’s, detectives said. They also found a ransom note with threats, although they would not say where it was found or what it demanded.

On Friday morning, about a dozen children at a school-bus stop in Parrish watched as Clay Moore was forced at gunpoint into a red pickup truck, police said.

Clay was bound and left alone in the dense woods about 20 miles away. For several hours, he worked to untie himself and then walked until he found a farmworker with a cell phone, police said.

“This man kidnapped the wrong kid,” Manatee County Sheriff Charlie Wells said. “This is an observant kid. He’s courageous.”

It appeared the boy was chosen randomly from the group of children in Parrish, a town about 30 miles southeast of St. Petersburg that has seen explosive growth but still has many rural areas, authorities said.

“Clay was just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” Sheriff Wells said.

Investigators think the kidnapper planned to leave the boy tied up in the woods until the ransom was paid, Sheriff Wells said. Authorities were trying to determine whether there were other people involved.

On Saturday, the boy accompanied investigators who interviewed several witnesses at a farm where Mr. Beltran, a native of Mexico, worked three years ago, sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow said. Mr. Beltran lately had been working as a laborer with an aluminum contractor, he said.

Police staked out Mr. Beltran’s home, about 12 miles southeast of where the boy was abducted in Parrish, Sheriff Wells said.

Mr. Beltran did not have a published telephone listing in Manatee County.

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