Child Custody battle Over Missing Women’s Daughter

AUSTIN — The family of a missing Austin mother is fighting for custody of her daughter. Wednesday morning a court hearing grew tense and emotional during the custody battle for four-year-old Layla, the daughter of Julie Ann Gonzalez.

Gonzalez, 21, vanished around March 26, 2010, from South Austin. Her daughter Layla was just two years old at the time. Layla has since been living with Gonzalez’s estranged husband, George De La Cruz.

De La Cruz is a person of interest in Gonzalez’s missing persons case. Austin police detectives have questioned him, but he has not been charged. The family of Julie Ann Gonzalez believe De La Cruz has information about her disappearance.

“This really scares me because I don’t know what this man is capable of,” said Layla’s grandmother Sandra Soto. “We still have zero answers. We know nothing.”

The judge granted Soto visits twice a month with her granddaughter Layla.

The judge warned Soto to remove Facebook posts that the judge said were accusatory toward De La Cruz. The judge said they caused tension between the families and ultimately hurt Layla.

“This is a very young child, and this child needs to be protected from any type of behavior,” said De La Cruz’s attorney Bret Doyal. “He takes care of his child. I’ve witnessed him. It’s a very loving relationship between father and daughter.”

Austin Police Department detectives say this remains an open investigation. No one has been arrested in Gonzalez’s disappearance.

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