Man who helped rescue missing 5-year-old girl recalls story

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Albuquerque police rescued 5-year-old, Oreyanna Clinton, after she was as in the center of an Amber Alert earlier this week.

Oreyanna was found on a city bus Tuesday morning, roughly 17 hours after she was last seen with her father at a bus stop across town.

APD says she was with an adult woman — who is not her mother — and was reunited with an out-of-state family member. 

But, we’re learning Oreyanna’s story could’ve ended much differently.

KOB 4 met with a man Wednesday who says he was on the bus when the Amber Alert went out. The man believes he was truly in the right place and the right time.

He wasn’t even planning to get on their bus, but told us as soon as he saw little Oryeanna with the woman, he had a gut instinct that something wasn’t right, and knew he had to act.

“My instincts kicked in as a father and I did something about it, and if I have to do it again, I will,” said Juan Carlos, the man who called police. 

It was a normal Tuesdays morning for Carlos when he got off a bus near Wyoming and Central. He was on his way to meet a friend, when he saw something strange across the road.

“The lady and the little girl was actually sitting right over there, and the little girl was reading a book,” Carlos said. 

He got closer.

“When I was walking by, that little girl was asking her ‘I thought you said my mom was gonna be here?’ and the lady’s like, ‘no, that’s why we’re catching this bus. She’s gonna be in the other bus stop,’” said Carlos. 

Carlos says he approached the woman – who was reportedly smoking something — and told her she shouldn’t do that in front of the girl. That’s when he says she asked him if he had any money.

“I’m like, what you need the money for? She’s like I’m trying to sell something, and I asked her what you sell? And she looked at the little girl, and I was like, you gotta be kidding me, are you serious?” said Carlos. “That’s when I was like, I’m not letting this lady out of my sight.”

He says he got on their bus to see where they were going, and minutes later. 

“Everybody’s phone started ringing for the Amber Alert,” said Carlos. “I was like that-  it has to be. Because what she just told me in the bus stop, nobody in the right mind would have said something like that about their own kid.”

He says he gave APD a call and convinced the bus driver to send a message to dispatch – that’s when the other passengers got involved.

“They kept yelling at me to mind my business, and before a fight breaks over. So I got off the bus, but I was watching from afar,” said Carlos. 

And he watched as police descended on the bus near Central and Girard, and rescued Oreyanna. 

“When it comes to a kid, I don’t care if you want to call me a snitch, or a rat or whatever, when it comes to a kid, I don’t care. You know, like, our kids is our future, and we got to protect them, we got to save them,” Carlos said. 

Albuquerque police are still investigating what happened to Oreyanna before she was found on the bus.

A spokesperson says they are still considering charges for her father.

The woman Oreyanna was found with — Melissa Theis — was arrested for an outstanding felony warrant. She was booked into jail overnight for shoplifting charges.

According to court records, this is the seventh time she’s been arrested this year, and some of those cases included drug charges.

Theis is not facing any charges connected to the Amber Alert case.

An APD spokesperson says she did not appear to be doing anything wrong, and was taking care of Oreyanna when her father couldn’t, but this is still an active investigation.