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Lost Child Not Out Of The Woods Allegedly Kidnapped In 1990, She Now Faces Custody Battle

Wed., Nov. 19, 1997, midnight

Her future is as uncertain as her past.

Eight-year-old Crystal Leann Anzaldi, allegedly kidnapped from her San Diego-area home seven years ago by a woman now accused of abusing her, may soon see her mother and father.

But her parents, who divorced shortly after she vanished, both want custody of Crystal.

Officials said Monday that Crystal was taken to Puerto Rico within weeks of her disappearance by Nilza Gierbolini Guzman, who lived in San Diego at the time of the kidnapping.

The girl known as Sonja Guzman in San Juan was told about her real parents on Monday and that her real name is Crystal Anzaldi.

“We’re told that she reacted fairly well,” said San Diego police Sgt. Jim Munsterman. “She told the people down there that she liked the name Crystal. She thought it was a pretty name.”

Jeff Anzaldi, 29, said from his home in a farm town west of Portland that he can’t wait to see his daughter and wants her to come to Oregon. He won custody of Crystal’s sister, 10-year-old Kendra, last year.

“The worst is behind me,” he said. “The best is ahead of me. It’s like my Christmas and Thanksgiving all in one.”

Anzaldi and his ex-wife, Dorothy Anzaldi of Corning, Calif., have denied any involvement in their daughter’s disappearance.

Dorothy Anzaldi, 37, also said she wants custody of Crystal.

“I want her to live with me. I’m her mother,” she said. “If I work on it the rest of my life, I want to work on bonding with her.”

Investigators said the story of Crystal’s disappearance was murky from the start. On Dec. 8, 1990, Crystal’s father said he woke up at about 7:30 a.m. and put a blanket over his diaper-clad daughter, who was sleeping with her parents in their bed.

“He woke up again at about 8 a.m. and she was gone,” Munsterman said.

Police scoured the neighborhood and questioned women carrying babies. Speculation was rampant because there was a lot of drug activity in the Anzaldi home, said Munsterman, the lead investigator during the initial search.

Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico, Gierbolini was reported to authorities in March for allegedly abusing Sonja, whom she claimed was her daughter. The girl’s birth certificate turned out to be fake, and authorities began investigating.

The key to finding the girl’s true identity turned out to be a tiny birthmark just to the left of her nose.

Puerto Rican and federal investigators compared a recent picture of Crystal with more than 500 photos on the Internet site of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and came across a striking match.


 

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