2-year-old girl with autism abducted in the Bronx found safe

THE BRONX, New York City (WABC) -- A 2-year-old girl with autism who was abducted in the Bronx has been found safe, and her father is under arrest after an Amber Alert was issued, authorities say.

Police say Seniya Benitez, who is non-verbal, was taken by her father, 21-year-old Christian Benitez, near Gleason Avenue around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Christian Benitez was charged with reckless endangerment and custodial interference.
Both were found in an apartment in the Bronx, not far from the child's grandmother's Gleason Avenue apartment.

Surveillance video showed Benitez leaving there Tuesday night carrying his daughter in his arms. He is not allowed to be with her unsupervised.

"We got into a verbal argument and he shoved me and threw me on the floor and ran out the house with my granddaughter," said the grandmother, Maria D'Amore.

The argument was about helping out around the house and caring for the child.

Since she was born, the 2-year-old has been in the care of her grandmother, who is in the process of becoming her legal guardian.

But now that may be in jeopardy. Sources say investigators are now looking into whether D'Amore left the baby in her father's care while she was hospitalized for a week, even though he's not allowed to be alone with her.

Asked if she had anything to say to Christian, D'Amore said "I don't know, I can't think straight right now about that."

D'Amore said she was worried because Christian took Seniya with no clothes, no diapers, no money, and no medication.

"I don't know where she is," D'Amore said earlier in the day. "How is he feeding her? And she takes medication. She has autism, developmental disabilities."

The suspect was last seen traveling on the 6 train at Castle Hill Avenue.

The child was taken under circumstances that led police to believe that they were in imminent danger of serious physical injury and/or death.

UPDATE: The Bronx District Attorney's Office has declined to prosecute the reckless endangerment and custodial interference case against Christian Benitez.

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