Husband of young Santa Ana mother who vanished in 2016 accused of kidnapping that caused her death

A Covina man employed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he kidnapped his wife, who vanished almost five years ago, in an incident that led to her death, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Eddy Reyes, 35, was arrested on April 15 and charged with kidnapping his wife, Claudia Sanchez Reyes, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.

Claudia Reyes was 21 when she vanished the night of May 6, 2016, after she left her job at an El Pollo Loco.

After her disappearance, Eddy Reyes told police that he had last heard from Claudia on May 7, and that she’d gone clubbing.

Four days after his wife was last seen, Reyes filed a missing person report with the Santa Ana Police Department. During the investigation, co-workers told police that they had heard the couple fighting prior to him picking her up in a rented SUV, an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint stated.

A drop of the woman’s blood was later found in the vehicle, and a cadaver dog indicated a deceased person had been in the SUV’s rear storage area at some point, investigators said.

Her body has still not been found, according to the criminal complaint.

“There is probable cause to believe that Reyes kidnapped Claudia by inveigling or decoying Claudia with a promise to take her dancing, and instead taking her to the home of his mother where Claudia was murdered,” the document read.

Reyes had obtained two temporary restraining orders against her husband, once in 2014 and another in 2016. He had a “history of alleged domestic abuse … against his wife, including several threats to kill her,” the news release stated.

The affidavit also documents a history of alleged domestic abuse by Reyes against his wife, including death threats, as well as temporary restraining orders Claudia Reyes obtained against her husband in 2014 and 2016.

“Reyes physically and mentally abused Claudia,” the document states, expanding on one instance where he allegedly paid a stranger $300 to steal his wife’s phone because, he “told a coworker, whom he also asked to steal the phone, that the phone had incriminating evidence about him that could ruin his career.”

According to authorities, he later asked that same stranger to plant cocaine on his wife.

The document noted that Reyes suspected his wife of cheating on him with another man.

In her request for a domestic violence restraining order in August 2014, Claudia Reyes alleged that her husband had been physical with her and said he had forced himself on her sexually at least once. She said her son, then 2 years old, would wake up scared at night.

These photos were submitted with Claudia Reyes’ August 2014 request for a restraining order against her husband.

Reyes also provided photos of a bruise and scratch on her arm, saying the wounds had been inflicted by her husband.

Additionally, she also alleged that, when she had to go to work, her husband would not feed their son or change his diapers. Further, she said, he screamed at the boy and hit him. The child was 4 when his mother went missing.

About three weeks after the initial filing, Claudia Reyes requested that the restraining order be dismissed.

In the second temporary domestic violence restraining order from March 2016, she alleged that Reyes had threatened to take their son and kill himself if she did not dismiss the earlier order, and that she did so out of concern for the child, according to the complaint.

In the March 2016 order, Reyes requested her husband go to a yearlong “batterer intervention program” and expressed concern for her family’s safety.

“I am frightened that my husband will hurt our son, me and/or himself. He is very violent and has a quick temper when things don’t go his way,” she wrote.

Eddy Reyes’ mother also had a “very bad relationship” with her daughter-in-law, and at one point even threatened Claudia “that they (presumably referring to Reyes and her) could kill her and take her child from her,” according to the criminal complaint.

Around the time of the first order, Reyes filed for divorce. However, the pair were still living together at their apartment on Bush Street in Santa Ana when she vanished, neighbors told KTLA in 2016.

No restraining order was in effect against Eddy Reyes at the time of his wife’s disappearance, the Orange County Register reported in 2016.

Twice, Reyes was asked in a background questionnaire for his job at CBP — once in 2015 and again in 2020 — if he had been a “party to any public record civil court action” in the past decade. Both times he answered no, despite the two temporary restraining orders, according to the complaint.

Reyes has been held without bound since he was arrested earlier this month, prosecutors said. His arraignment is scheduled for May 3.

The defendant could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole if convicted on the charge of kidnapping resulting in death.

Authorities did not release a booking photo.

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