How Did This Murder Suspect Cross the Border and Escape in San Diego?

Fugitive Tyler Adams used a fake name to cross the border with his baby and girlfriend, who was later found murdered in Tijuana with the baby missing

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The FBI said it is running down tips as it looks for the man Mexican authorities consider a suspect in the murder of a San Diego Navy veteran.

The suspect, 50-year-old Tyler Adams -- who uses several aliases -- was able to cross the border from Mexico into the United States despite being escorted by Mexican authorities to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The FBI said he used an alias and a fake ID to get across. 

“Clearly something went wrong” in the transfer, but “the focus now should be on getting him picked up and into custody,” said FBI spokesperson Bill McNamara.

It is a complicated story that is believed to have started April 17 when Adams, using the name Paul W. Phillips, and his girlfriend Racquel Sabean crossed the border into Tijuana with their 7-month-old daughter Valentina. On May 31, a badly decomposed body believed to be that of Sabean was found in the back of her mother’s car in Tijuana. On June 8, Mexican authorities issued an Amber Alert to find Valentina. Mexican authorities detained Adams on June 15 to question him about the Amber Alert. Valentina was found later the same day in the care of a woman in Rosarito who had no idea Valentina had been reported missing.

NBC 7's Amber Frias spoke to the father of the wanted man's girlfriend about his past and how he may have slipped by border agents.

Mexican officials said Adams is the principal suspect in Sabean's murder but turned him over to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) because he was also wanted in the U.S. for escaping from a work furlough program in Hawaii, where he had been doing time for fraud. On June 16, Adams entered the San Ysidro Port of Entry, according to the FBI, and used the alias Aaron Bain to cross the border.

“The Customs agent that led him through should be ashamed, the San Diego police should be ashamed,” said the victim’s father, David Sabean. “At least the Mexican police hunted him down and found him and found my granddaughter, though they made a mistake at the border. ”

David Sabean said he has not been told by authorities what went wrong, but he said Tyler, whom he knew as Phillips, “has always said he was the smartest person in the room. And he’s smarter than all those people over there that he got away from. This is his second escape… Are they working for the Mickey Mouse Club? Are they working for Disneyland? Are you kidding me?” he asked.

David Sabean’s ex-wife and Racquel Sabean’s mother, Denise Sabean-Hosking, said looking back does not help her get her daughter back.

“I’m not angry. I’m disappointed, but it just goes to show this guy is somehow able to convince people that things are such that they aren’t.” She said he is very charming and convincing and if he has no money or credit card, she fears he could be dangerous to others. She also worries about her granddaughter when she comes back to the U.S. 

“He loves the baby, he wants that baby and I just need to have the peace of mind knowing that he’s in a place where he’s not ever going to be able to steal her away from family," Sabean-Hosking said.

Because this is an FBI case, the San Diego Police Department said it could not comment. CBP did not respond to NBC 7's request for comment on the story.

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