Victor Alvarez, 31, of Big Lake, is charged with kidnapping and deprivation of parental rights in connection to the March 17 Amber Alert.
He is accused of taking the boy, whom charges say he is "very fond of," from his bedroom in Westport, Pope County Wednesday night.
The Amber Alert was issued at 4:36 p.m. on Thursday, with the boy was found safe at about 11:47 p.m. that night, strapped in a car seat in the garage of a home of someone Alvarez knows in rural Stearns County.
Alvarez was arrested near his home in Big Lake after a "brief struggle" and was booked into the Kandiyohi County Jail at 2 a.m. Friday, jail records show. He's scheduled to make his first court appearance on Monday.
According to the criminal complaint, the boy's family was caring for the 2-year-old while his mom was at work Wednesday night (March 16). They put him in his room at 8 p.m. and when his mom returned home and went to bed, she discovered her son was gone.
The mom and her family searched the home and then called 911 at about 4:29 a.m. Thursday, March 17, to report the boy missing.
The family found a note written in English and Spanish asking for forgiveness for taking the child, charges said. The note indicated a prior plan to take the boy and authorities found what looked like footprints outside the boy's bedroom window.
A K-9 tracked the boy's scent from the home to the driveway, where it continued south on 120th Avenue before the dog lost the scent, the complaint said.
An Amber Alert was issued at 4:36 p.m. on Thursday.
Investigators interviewed the child's father and his family, who were determined to have no involvement in the boy's abduction, charges said.
Meanwhile, the boy's mom reported a man she knew as Benigno Alvarrez, who was later identified as Victor Alvarez, was "very fond of her son," the complaint said. Alvarez would give him rides, hug her son, buy him things and take photos with him, posting some on his Facebook page that had since been removed.
The mom said Alvarez wanted to date her but she refused, and Alvarez had been to their home and knew where the boy's bedroom is located, the complaint said. He also knew the mom's work schedule, as he'd driven her to work in the past.
She thought Alvarez had moved to California, and he claimed to have called the mom from there on March 14, telling her to move to California with him, charges allege. The mom knew he drove a pick-up truck and worked at a restaurant, which was only identified in the criminal complaint as Restaurant XX.
The manager of Restaurant XX called police at 8:51 p.m. Thursday, saying employees had seen Alvarez with the child at the restaurant at 8:15 p.m., the complaint states. The manager said Alvarez wasn't known to have a child and claimed about five days prior he would be bringing his child to visit the restaurant.
Throughout the investigation, Alvarez made several attempts to contact the boy's mom, charges said. At 10:02 p.m. on Thursday, Alvarez called the mom, who answered in front of law enforcement. Alvarez asked her what happened and acted upset and surprised that her son had been kidnapped.
During the call, Alvarez claimed to be driving back from California and he made no mention that he knew where the child was, charges said.
Investigators found clothing the 2-year-old was last wearing in Alvarez's home, the complaint states. Police stopped Alvarez as he was driving at 11:14 p.m. on Thursday and he was arrested, but the boy was not with him.
Then, at 11:47 p.m., a woman called authorities to report she found the missing boy in her garage in Zion Township, near Paynesville, in rural Stearns County. Police interviewed the residents and said they discovered him in a booster-style car seat in their garage and were not told he was in there.
In an interview with police, Alvarez said he made a mistake and took the child from his home but didn't tell the boy's mom what he'd done, the complaint said. He said he dropped the boy off in an empty garage at the home of someone he knows but no one was home at the time.