Letha Mae Montemayor, 52, was taken into custody without incident at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the area of Orion Avenue and Nordhoff Street in North Hills. The arrest came about 10 hours after federal authorities made a public plea for help identifying two suspects seen in child pornography photos believed to have been taken about 11 years ago at an apartment in the Los Angeles area.
Authorities said the unidentified man and Montemayor were seen molesting a girl in the widely circulated images. The girl appears to be about 13 years old at the time of the crime.
"We started getting tips, credible tips, regarding the whereabouts of the Jane Doe," said special agent Claude Arnold of ICE Homeland Security. "When they saw her outside the apartment, they moved in and arrested her without incident."
Montemayor's son, Paul Tucker, said his mother was in the process of getting an attorney after she found out that she was wanted by police. He said his mother was definitely the woman in the photos, but said the victim's name was Kiki, and she claimed to be an adult.
"When I had spoken with the girl way back when, when we were living in the hotel, we were being told that she was 18. That's what she had said to us, that she was 18 but she just looked younger," Tucker said.
Tucker called the allegations against his mother "ridiculous."
"My mom does not do anything of the sort like that," he said.
Asked why it took so long to release the photo to the public, Arnold said: "We have to weigh all these cases on an individual basis. Sometimes if you release a photo, people know that authorities are after them and they go underground, they disappear."
Investigators are still searching for the male suspect. His face was purposely obscured, apparently by the person who began circulating the photos.
"In some of these cases, people are very familiar with the people they engage in the activity with, and others, they're complete strangers, and there's anonymity there. But one thing is for sure: They're all members of a sick subculture, and they tend to repeat this kind of activity," said Arnold.
Montemayor faces federal charges of producing child pornography and conspiracy to produce child pornography. She's expected to be arraigned Monday at the federal courthouse in downtown L.A.
Anyone with information or tips is urged to call (866) DHS-2ICE or visit http://www.ice.gov/exec/forms/hsi-tips/tips.asp. Tips may be reported anonymously.