Courtesy of Madera County Historical Society
Twenty-five years ago, little Rachel Avila was returned to her parents after she was kidnapped. Three days after her abduction, the kidnappers left the child at a site west of Madera and telephoned her parents where they could find her. Shown here is Rachel with her mother, Adeliada Avila.
25 Years Ago
Week of July 9, 1992
KIDNAPPED GIRL RETURNED, SAFE — Little Rachael Avila has been returned safely to her parents. Late last night the Avilas received a phone call telling them their child was being left at a site several miles west of Madera. Local police and FBI agents found the child and took her immediately to the Madera Community Hospital where she was reunited with her parents. Officials would not respond to questions about the $150,000 ransom that had been demanded by the kidnappers. Even though the child has been found, FBI officials said the search for the suspects is continuing “with a full-court press.”
JOHN SORDI WAS FIRST A BANKER — John Sordi, being honored this year for his 55 years in farming, started his working life, not in the fields, but in a bank—the Bank of Italy. Sordi acquainted himself with the entire community by becoming the only bilingual banker in the county. He did everything from managing 1-cent school accounts to repossessing stoves to making loans on the collateral of crops such as wheat, timber, and dairy cattle. He was well-liked and rose quickly in the bank, which later evolved into the Bank of America. He stayed with the financial institution for 15 years before returning to his first love — farming.
POLICE SEEK MAN IN WOMAN’S MURDER — Police are looking for the man who allegedly murdered a Madera woman Sunday night near Sharon Road and Harding Street. According to Capt. Andrew Moore, Eufracia Aufrie Mata, 39, Madera, had been shopping with her daughter at Wal-Mart. When the two returned to their car, they were surprised by a gunman who had been hiding in the back seat. The assailant demanded money from Mata who then pulled over. When the suspect demanded that she keep driving, she refused, and her daughter jumped out of the car. The assailant then shot Mata and fled. The victim was taken to Valley Medical Center where she died.
JURY RULES COUNTY DID NOT VIOLATE NASH’S RIGHTS — Deputies did not violate Ted Nash’s rights, and Madera County owes him nothing. This was the decision of a federal jury after 9 and 1/2 hours of deliberation. Testimony in the 9-day trial showed that Nash was beaten with a nightstick and arrested by two sheriff’s deputies, but the jury found the deputies had acted with reasonable force. Nash was asking for $3 million in damages for injuries and emotional distress as a result of his April 16, 1990, arrest in a domestic dispute. No charges were ever filed against Nash stemming from the arrest.
ZACHARIA FILES FOR CITY COUNCIL — Following through on his February promise to run for the Madera City Council, local businessman Issa “Zak” Zacharia was the first to file Thursday afternoon. Zacharia said announcing early has given him a chance to get feedback from the public, which has been “nothing but very positive” in all corners of the city. He said his experience as a businessman and local community leader has helped immensely. He announced that Department of Corrections Chief Al Hahn will run his campaign and has a committee of about 30 members. Zacharia said, “We have to catch up and take care of this town.”
50 Years Ago
Week of July 9, 1967
WOMAN FIRES 5 SHOTS; ONE STRIKES VICTIM — Howard S. Thompson, 61, is in satisfactory condition in the Madera Community Hospital today after he was shot by Velma D. Bradford, 54, who was booked by the sheriff’s office on a charge of attempted murder. The couple had been living together on the L.L. Howard Ranch where Thompson is employed. Following an argument Sunday afternoon, Bradford fired 5 shots at Thompson with a .38 caliber revolver. One of the shots struck him in the side. Howard, the owner of the ranch, said Bradford then called him and said, “I’ve just shot Howard; send the ambulance out.”
YOUTHS STEAL PURSE; MOTHER ARRESTED — Four children found a purse on Lucille Holm’s lawn Monday, and today the mother of three of them is awaiting a hearing on the charge of receiving stolen property. Mrs. Holm had just returned home and set her purse down to water the lawn. While she was occupied, four youths took the purse. Police apprehended them and arrested Ora Jean Cobbs, 40, the mother of three of the boys. An investigation revealed that she had taken the purse from the youths and had given each of them $5, keeping the remaining $80 for herself. She admitted wrapping the identification card from the purse and instructing the youths to dispose of the package.
WATER METER PROPOSAL MEETS ‘WALL OF RESISTANCE’ — With a hint at installing metered water service for the entire city sometime in the future, City Administrator Phil Brown Monday night asked only for metered service in business buildings, but he met a wall of resistance from the city council. Madera now offers any office building owner the option of a flat rate or a meter fee. Brown indicated metered service for the entire community would be the ideal situation, but for now he recommended that the city require business buildings be equipped with meters. The council voted to keep the situation as it is (optional).
DEPUTIES HUNT ALLEGED SLAYER IN MOUNTAINS NEAR NORTH FORK — Madera County Sheriff’s deputies are searching the rolling brush country near North Fork for a parolee wanted on suspicion of killing his grandmother during a shooting spree. Investigators said Taylor Teaford, 32, shot and killed Pearl Teaford during a violent argument Tuesday night. They said he also wounded his sister, Mrs. Cheri McIntosh, 26, and a passing motorist. Teaford is reportedly still on the loose high in the eastern section of Madera County. Teaford was in state prison until April of this year and has not been in Madera County for the last 10 years.
‘HELL’S ANGELS’ COST COUNTY $3,000 IN JULY 4th VISIT — County supervisors paid out an extra $3,000 to cover law enforcement during the Hell’s Angels July 4 visit to Bass Lake, and they wondered how to get rid of the notorious motorcycle group. Sheriff Marlin Young said the National Guard can be called in, but only when a situation becomes locally uncontrollable. He said four hours are needed to mobilize and move guard units. “It’s just a shame,” board chairman Herman Neufeld commented, “that we have to put up with this every year.” Asked what sort of law could be passed to “keep undesirables out,” Dist. Atty. James Hanhart said, “None, unless the Constitution is changed.”