Police: Mesa girl escapes after mom attacked by a man hiding in closet

Yesenia Cano was the woman who was attacked just after 2:30 p.m. at home on Marilyn Avenue, near Horne and Broadway Road.
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 2:22 PM MST|Updated: Apr. 19, 2023 at 10:15 PM MST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — A man is in custody, accused of breaking into a Mesa home and hiding in a closet before attacking the woman who lives there on Monday afternoon.

Yesenia Cano was the woman who was attacked just after 2:30 p.m. at home on Marilyn Avenue, near Horne and Broadway Road. Arizona’s Family spoke exclusively to her. Cano said she and her daughter arrived home and found the door was not locked the way she had left it. “When I noticed that, I thought my husband must have returned from work because he’s the other one with a house key. I walked in and didn’t see him. I went to the kitchen and didn’t see him, went into the room, the restroom, and nothing,” she said in Spanish.

She said it was dark when she went into her son’s bedroom. She turned on the light and said a man, later identified as 42-year-old Reyes Vender, jumped out of the closet and grabbed her by the neck with the crease of his elbow, yelling that he had a gun and knife. “I fought him off to save my daughter’s life,” she said. “I don’t know why he did this.” She told police that Vender began hitting her in the ribs, stomach, and legs.

Cano’s 10-year-old daughter called 911 and said a man she didn’t know was holding a gun to her mother’s head. Vender reportedly told the girl to “get out of the house before I shoot you.”

Cano says she told her daughter to get out. As she worked to hold off the man, her daughter ran outside and called for help. Court documents describe what happened next. A Mesa police officer arrived at the home about a minute after the 911 call and found the young girl waiting outside. The officer went to the front door and yelled for anyone inside to show themselves. The officer noticed a bedroom door slowly open, then saw Cano and Vender. The officer told both to come out of the room, and Cano was able to run outside to safety while the officer held Vender at gunpoint. Other officers arrived, and after a brief struggle, Vender was arrested.

Nobody was severely hurt, but it was a traumatizing experience for the family. “I have a lot of anxiety, a lot of stress, I can’t sleep well, and parts of my body hurt after the physical struggle with him. I’ve seen my daughter a little stressed and very frightened. She had to sleep with the light on after the incident. But she’s been very scared,” Cano said.

According to court documents, Vender told investigators that he did threaten to shoot the mother and girl, but it’s unclear why he was in that home or if any weapons were recovered. He’s facing charges including aggravated assault, burglary, kidnapping, and resisting arrest.