Deputies: Man who took 9-month-old girl arrested

Infant found alone in locked SUV

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The man deputies say abducted a 9-month-old baby is now behind bars.

Records show that 23-year-old Lieghraughnzo Benally was booked in just after 2 a.m. Tuesday morning. Bernalillo County Deputies say they arrested him at around 11 p.m. Monday night near Montgomery and I-25.

According to deputies, the baby was found Monday evening in a locked SUV, all by herself in northwest Albuquerque.

Investigators believe Benally was drunk when he stole the SUV with baby Ariana inside Monday afternoon.

“I’m sure that he has his side of the story, he’d like to tell,” said Captain Andi Taylor, of the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department. “We would love to hear that side of the story, so I would ask that Mr. Benally be a responsible adult, and end this day.”

Deputies got the call around 1:30 p.m. Monday. Investigators said Benally was with baby Ariana’s mom on the Pajarito Mesa near Nine-Mile Hill, watching ATV riders.

At one point, deputies said Benally and the baby’s mom got into a fight, and Benally took off in the mom’s maroon Acura SUV with Arizona plates, knowing full well that 9-month-old Ariana was inside.

An Amber Alert was sent out Monday afternoon, and tips started circulating.

Taylor said it was an off-duty Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Deputy who got a call from a friend around 6:40 p.m. Monday to check out a suspicious vehicle in a neighborhood near Cibola High School.

When the deputy took a look at the SUV, baby Ariana was inside by herself in a car seat.

“The windows were up, not cracked,” said Captain Taylor. “It is not known how long that car had been there, however the car was cold to the touch when the off-duty detective did arrive.”

“There was no way to access the vehicle or the child immediately, so the off-duty detective did break a window to gain access to the child,” Captain Taylor added.

Medics arrived, and determined baby Ariana was dehydrated. She was taken to a local hospital, and will be placed with the Children Youth and Families Department for at least 48 hours, as the child abuse investigation continues.

Deputies said they are questioning everyone who was with baby Ariana Monday afternoon.

Investigators said Benally had been dating the baby’s mom for about a week. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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