South Florida mother, boyfriend arrested in California

The South Florida mother who went on the run after allegedly secretly taking her son from his Cutler Bay school and her boyfriend have been arrested in California, a Miami-Dade Schools Police spokesperson said Thursday night.

Carrie Weingarth and Christian Coello were arrested in Barstow, California, and Weingarth's three children are safe, according to Miami-Dade Schools Police spokesperson Gemma Carrillo.

Earlier Thursday, Weingarth's sister made a tearful plea for her to return to South Florida.

"I just want you to come home," Melissa Weingarth said at a news conference. "I want your kids to be safe. We just want to help you."

Carrie Weingarth became the subject of a multi-state search after she walked into Gulfstream Elementary School late last week and without authorization from school officials and the father of 12-year-old Erin Pena, took him and disappeared along with his two brothers.

Authorities say Erin Pena and his two younger brothers, Steven, age 8, and Derick, age 7, were with Weingarth, who was in the company of her boyfriend, Coello.

They were traveling in a 2014 Jeep Patriot, dark blue in color, with Florida tag 476HXS, that was rented at the Jacksonville International Airport Enterprise, police said.

Father Steven Pena said he and Weingarth are in the middle of an ongoing custody dispute.

Although Weingarth has custody of Steven and Derick, their father has petitioned to get custody. The hearing will be held Friday. Steven Pena said he had custody of Erin, who chose to be with his father.

On Thursday, private detective Joe Carrillo, who is helping Weingarth's family, promised that if Carrie comes home she is promised legal representation and support.

"We will fly wherever she is in a private plane with attorneys to bring them here safely," Carrillo said.

Steven Pena told NBC 6 that he was glad that the plea went out from the Weingarth family. He says it has been hell without his kids and claims police have not kept him informed on the status of the investigation.

"It will be a lot less hard on her if she turned herself in," he said.

Police said that Weingarth was spotted earlier this week heading west in Louisiana.


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