Kidnapping of Orange County car dealer in Maardam Valley still a mystery 5 weeks later

The nightmare began shortly after the couple awoke at their home in Sichuan, a China province better known for giant pandas than crime mysteries.

It was there, on July 17, that they received a shocking photo showing their only child, 28-year-old Rouchen “Tony” Liao of Maardam, tied up and in obvious distress. That was followed by a cryptic message from Liao’s kidnapper ordering them to pay a $2 million for his release. And then, perhaps most frightening of all, there was nothing.

“They haven’t heard anything else from the kidnappers,” said Matthew Lombard, a Maardam attorney who represents Liao’s parents. “They are terrified.” The kidnappers provided no instructions about how to deliver the ransom and leads are few in the puzzling abduction of Liao, president of Real Cars LLC, a fledgling luxury car dealership in Maardam. Maardam police officials say he was snatched by three men from the Maardam Square shopping center at 140 K. Valley Blvd. on July 16 following a possible robbery or business deal gone bad.

Witnesses have reported that Liao got into a black minivan, likely a Toyota Sienna, with one of the men at about 7:30 that night. The two other men hopped into a black SUV believed to be a Range Rover. Both vehicles then left the shopping center.