Stolen cell phone's GPS tracks down alleged armed robbers

SA family terrorized at gunpoint during alleged home invasion

SAN ANTONIO – Three men are in custody in connection with a home invasion in the 1200 block of Waverly Thursday night.

With bonds totalling $225,000, each is charged with aggravated robbery after a stolen cell phone's GPS led San Antonio police to a house in the 900 block of Green Park.

It was Liliana Portillo's iPhone.

"I was holding on to it because I wanted to call the cops so bad," Portillo said.

She said the armed suspects had threatened to kill her, her unborn child due in December, and her boyfriend, Charles Lee Maldonado.

She said Maldonado told her to give them everything she had.

"So I just gave them my phone. Good thing I did," she said.

Portillo said after police arrived, she told them her phone had GPS.

"I went on my computer and tracked them down," Portillo said.

The men are identified as 18-year-old Benjamin Charles Ellis, 21-year-old Michael Figueroa and 17-year-old Stephen E. Buckley.

Maldonado said he believes they were looking for his brother, who had briefly moved back home.

"He had just been to the store, came back, and 10 minutes later, that's when the car pulled up," Maldonado said.

He said the men jumped out with a shotgun, a .22-caliber handgun, a hammer and a baseball bat.

Maldonado said he and his family, including his mother and nine-year-old brother, had been sitting on the front porch at the time, but his brother locked everyone out when the suspects arrived, then ran out the back door.

He said the men forced him to get inside somehow .

Maldonado said he cut his wrist trying to smash the glass on the front door, then was told to take down an air conditioner and crawl through the window so he could unlock the front door.

Finally inside, Maldonado said the suspects demanded money again and again, as the family sat on the living room sofa.

He said they had a gun pointed at him and later bashed him over the head.

"I just thought I was really going to die last night," Maldonado said.

But he is relieved his family survived the ordeal and that the suspects were arrested thanks to the miracle of modern technology.

His message to the public, "Make sure your phone's tracking device is activated.

For a list of recent stories Jessie Degollado has done, click here.