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Israel Hernandez, 30. An Amber Alert was issued late Monday after Hernandez failed to return his three children to their legal guardian. Police believe the man could be headed toward California or Mexico in either a maroon Chevrolet Corsica or a black Cadillac Escalade.

WEST VALLEY CITY — The search continued Tuesday for three young children police believed were kidnapped by their abusive father.

It's been more than 48 hours since Xiomara Hernandez-Torres, 3; Pablo Hernandez, 4, and Alicia Hernandez, 6, were last seen. An Amber Alert was issued just after 10 p.m. Monday out of concern for the children's safety.

Their father is Israel Hernandez, 30. In 2006, the state gave custody of his three children to his sister, Francisca Hernandez, because of continued abuse, said West Valley police Capt. Tom McLachlan. Israel, however, was allowed visitation.

The visits were supposed to be supervised, McLachlan said. But over the years, the sister became a little more lax in letting Hernandez take the children and return them later, McLachlan said. He would usually take them in the morning and return them several hours later, according to police.

This past Sunday, however, Hernandez did not return the children. The sister contacted police Monday who went to Hernandez's residence.

"Everything indicated that he had packed up and left. He didn't take everything, but he took enough items that it was apparent he wasn't coming back for awhile," McLachlan said.

Investigators believe Hernandez's girlfriend, Marta Torres, 32, the birth mother of one of the children, is with him.

The mother of the other two children has not been seen for several years, McLachlan said.

An Amber Alert was issued at 10:10 p.m. Monday. One of the criteria for issuing an Amber Alert is there is the belief the child, or children, are facing imminent danger, serious bodily injury or death. McLachlan said in this case, the danger is based on Hernandez's previous pattern of abuse.

"This abuse was severe," he said. "It did put them in danger."

McLachlan declined to get into any specifics about the prior abuse, only noting that it did require visits to the doctors and left the children bleeding and bruised in some cases.

"That abuse was going to continue. That's why the state took custody away and gave it to the sister," he said. "Since there has been no evidence he has taken any (anger management) classes, we believe the abuse will re-emerge and continue."

Detectives believe the group may be headed to Hernandez's hometown of Mexico City. The border patrol, immigration officials and police in several western states have been notified, McLachlan said. Investigators believe the group is either in a maroon Chevrolet Corsica or a black Cadillac Escalade.

Neither Hernandez nor Torres have shown up for work this week, McLachlan said. The use of ATM/credit cards or cell phones was still being looked at Tuesday.

Xiomara Hernandez-Torres is 35 pounds and last seen wearing a rose-colored shirt, black pants and white shoes.

Alicia Hernandez is 3 feet 6 inches tall and weighs 40 pounds. She has black hair and brown eyes and was last seen wearing a red and pink shirt and white shorts.

Pablo Hernandez is 3 feet tall and weighs 30 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a blue shirt with white stripes, blue jeans and white shoes.

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