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A grade school teacher in California has been arrested on suspicion that she detained a missing teenager in her home for nearly two years.
According to police, Holga Castillo Olivares, 61, began keeping Michael Ramirez in her home shortly after he was reported missing in June 2020, when he was then 15 years old. According to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, Ramirez had last been seen leaving the residence belonging to his guardians, Katte Smith and her husband, on May 18 of that year. Ramirez then "inexplicably" reappeared at the residence in March 2022, when he was 17.
The International Business Times characterized Ramirez as a runaway, and Smith admitted that Ramirez had been having problems with some of the household rules.
"He felt like the grass was greener on the other side," Smith said about Ramirez's initial disappearance. Smith's husband, whose name has not been given, is Ramirez's biological uncle.
There are mixed reports regarding Ramirez's connection to Olivares. Some outlets have stated that Ramirez is friends with Olivares' son. However, IBT reported that Olivares' daughter may have been Ramirez's childhood girlfriend. Either way, police believe that Olivares had been housing Ramirez and willfully concealing his whereabouts from law enforcement and from his family.
The Rancho Cordova Police Department claimed officers conducted an "extensive search" for Ramirez after his family reported him missing in 2020, but they never found him. According to IBT, Smith claimed that Olivares misled police during their investigation, though no other details regarding that assertion were given.
Olivares has been charged with detention of a minor with intent to conceal from a parent, a felony, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor. She is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.
Olivares is a second grade teacher at Alice Birney Waldorf-Inspired K-8 School in the Sacramento City Unified School District, though whether she ever taught Ramirez is unclear. The district issued a statement following her arrest.
"The charges filed are for acts unrelated to the employee's assigned duties. The employee has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a District investigation. As this is a personnel matter, Sac City Unified has no further comment," the SCUSD statement said.
Reports claim that Ramirez returned to the Smith residence of his own volition and told his family that he had been staying at a friend's house. The Smith home is located approximately 20 miles from Olivares' residence.
Though the Smiths are grateful to have Ramirez home safely, they remain angry that they were deprived of nearly two years with him.
"We felt so robbed of all this time with him," Smith told reporters. "You can’t just hide someone’s kid and think that’s OK."
Ramirez turned 18 in August.
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Sr. Editor, News
Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.