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After 4 years, accused child killer found in Mexico

LAWRENCEVILLE — A former Lawrenceville resident accused of killing his 2-year-old daughter and hiding her body in an attic was apprehended in Mexico this week after a four-year search, authorities announced Wednesday.

Christian Vasquez was arrested Tuesday in Puebla, a city in south-central Mexico, and is awaiting extradition back to Georgia. Working from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City, FBI officials liaised with Mexican authorities to locate and apprehend Vasquez, said Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Sean Smith.

Police believe Vasquez struck his young daughter, Prisi, with an object, causing a fatal fracture to her skull in January or February 2007 at his family’s Stillwater Lane home.

Vasquez allegedly hid the child’s body in the attic, then avoided arrest by fleeing with his wife to Mexico. The body lay in the attic for about 16 months, while unrelated occupants lived in the apartment beneath.

In June 2008, the child’s mother, Amy Ruiz, called her father in Gwinnett to tell him where the body was, and he went to police with the information, authorities said.

That month, investigators secured arrest warrants charging Vasquez with murder. He was indicted on four related counts in Gwinnett that August.

A grand jury also indicted Ruiz on counts of second-degree child cruelty and concealing the death of another. Her indictment alleges she failed to seek medical attention for her slain daughter.

Ruiz’s family has called her prosecution unjust, painting her as the victim of a violent, domineering husband. Ruiz told her family that Vasquez flew into a rage and beat the 2-year-old toddler to death with a pole. He threatened to harm Ruiz if she sought help, then forced her to flee the country with him, her family told the Daily Post in 2009.

Ruiz is a legal U.S. citizen reared in Buford, while her husband is a native of Mexico who had not gained citizenship, family members said.

Texas authorities said Ruiz, emaciated and scarred, was caught trying to cross back into the United States in September 2009. Her family said she was helped across by Mexican authorities after she’d escaped her husband, who had held her captive in Puebla.

The scope of the search for Vasquez broadened when Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office investigators secured federal UFAP — Unlawful Flight to Avoid Prosecution — warrants four years ago. They partnered with the Gwinnett District Attorney’s Office, the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice to obtain a provisional arrest warrant for Vasquez in Mexico in 2010, Smith said.

Smith said he had no information on how long Vasquez’s extradition to Georgia might take.

Ruiz’s trial in her daughter’s death is pending. Her attorney did not return a call for comment Wednesday, but court records indicate she has been free on bond since a month after her extradition to Gwinnett, and has since relocated to North Georgia.