Family continues search for missing Volusia County mother, children

Volusia County investigators taking temporary break in search

Yessenia Suarez with her children, Michael Otto and Thalia Otto.
Yessenia Suarez with her children, Michael Otto and Thalia Otto.

LAKE MARY, Fla. – Investigators say they are taking a temporary break from actively searching for a missing Volusia County mother and her two children that they announced last week are likely dead.

Deputies said they are brainstorming and following up on leads to determine the next steps in the investigation and search into the disappearance of Yessenia Suarez and her two children, 8-year-old Michael Otto and 9-year-old Thalia Otto.

Suarez's family members and coworkers continued the search on Monday and said they can't give up hope. They said they want to focus on the search and not on Suarez's husband, Luis Toledo, who is named the only person of interest in her disappearance.

Investigators say they believe Suarez and her children are dead, although their bodies have not been recovered, nor will investigators disclose any evidence they have found.

Toledo was arrested Wednesday on battery charges from a domestic violence incident with Suarez on Tuesday. He has not been charged with Suarez's death as of Monday, but is jailed on no bond.

Meanwhile, investigators found remains in Sanford during the search for Suarez and her children, but say that they believe the remains are not the missing family or related to their disappearance.

Suarez and her children were reported missing on Wednesday and Toledo was named a person of interest in her disappearance on Thursday, according to Volusia County deputies.

A family member called VCSO on Wednesday morning and asked for deputies to conduct a well-being check on 28-year-old Suarez at a home on Covent Gardens Place in Deltona, officials said. Neither Suarez, nor her children were at the home.

Shortly after, Toledo, 31, arrived at the home and was arrested based on battery charges from a domestic violence incident that occurred Tuesday at his wife's workplace--American K-9 Detection Services in Lake Mary.

According to a police report, Toledo said he went to his wife's work to confront her about text messages found on her phone. Toledo also wanted to speak to another employee and her bosses about the alleged indiscretions but couldn't find any.

Police said Toledo slapped Suarez at her job. Toledo, who deputies say is a known gang member, fled before police arrived at the scene, but he was booked into the Volusia County Jail in Daytona Beach on Wednesday.

On Saturday, Toledo attempted to commit suicide at the Volusia County Sheriff's Office's Operations Center bathroom. He was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

He will be transferred to Seminole County jail from Volusia County jail, but it is unclear when.

Toledo was arrested in 2000 for attempted murder, aggravated battery with a weapon and kidnapping after allegedly attacking a woman. According to a police report, the woman said Toledo called her and asked her to meet him at apartment complex.

When she got there, she said Toledo and three masked men attacked her, punching her and kicking her, according to police.

During the attack a plastic bag was placed over the victim's head, the report states and an unknown type of cord was placed around her neck in an attempt to strangle her.

Police said the victim told them Toledo said "you set me up" but didn't know what it was about. The charges against Toledo were later dropped.