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Few Leads in Search for Boy Taken From Grandmother

The search for a 4-year-old boy who authorities say was snatched from his grandmother's arms stretched into a fourth day Saturday, with crews pulling yet another vehicle from a California canal where a man earlier in the week reported seeing a car linked to the kidnapping plunge into the water.

PATTERSON, Calif. -- The search for a 4-year-old boy who authorities say was snatched from his grandmother's arms stretched into a fourth day Saturday, with crews pulling yet another vehicle from a California canal where a man earlier in the week reported seeing a car linked to the kidnapping plunge into the water.

Before sundown, Stanislaus County authorities said they were suspending their search of the canal for at least 48 hours to give divers time to recover.

A search of the Delta-Mendota canal near Patterson has netted authorities five stolen vehicles, including the Nissan pickup truck pulled from the water Saturday, but not the Toyota Corolla that the suspect was last seen driving, officials said.

"We have not had any solid leads that point us any other direction," said sheriff's spokesman Royjindar Singh. "It's very unusual for a kidnapping case."

The boy, Juliani Cardenas, was taken from his grandmother Tuesday by Jose Esteban Rodriguez, 27, the ex-boyfriend of the boy's mother, authorities said.

Authorities have released a surveillance video showing Rodriguez buying beer at a convenience store about an hour before the kidnapping. But investigators have not uncovered any electronic trail showing that he has purchased gas or food since Tuesday, Singh said. A statewide Amber Alert has been reduced to a local alert.

The search for evidence had remained focused on the canal after authorities said a man reported seeing a vehicle fitting the description of the Toyota go into the water Tuesday night.

Tabitha Cardenas, the missing boy's mother who is eight months pregnant with Rodriguez's child, told KPIX earlier in the week that she was relieved no bodies were discovered underwater, and she didn't believe her ex-boyfriend would harm her son.

"I knew that if the car was found that Jose and Juliani would not be in it," said Cardenas.

The couple broke up several months ago.

Singh said the truck found Saturday was located about a mile-and-half from where the man reported seeing the vehicle go into the water.

"We have nothing more than what we had at the scene at the canal," said Singh.

Singh said the recovered pickup truck was reported stolen in 2009.

Removing the stolen cars, which authorities were not expecting to find, as well as the need to shut down gates that control water flow, turned into a time-consuming process, said Singh.

"It's an easy place to dump cars," said Singh. "Somebody could very easily push a car into the canal and just walk away," he said.

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