Events leading to campground death began in Alaska |

Events leading to campground death began in Alaska

BETH IPSEN, Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner

The killing of Rebbeca Aramburo at a South Shore campground capped a long, bitter custody battle that began in Alaska.

Rebbeca, 9, lived in Fairbanks for four years and attended kindergarten there in 1998. Her mother, Lisa Ann Platz, 31, and her mother’s boyfriend, James Csucsai, 35, are charged with capital murder in connection with her death Sept. 21.

The couple, who met while Csucsai lived in North Pole and Platz lived in Fairbanks, also are charged with kidnapping the girl at gunpoint Aug. 13 in Lakewood, Wash. They were arrested after a nine-hour standoff in South Lake Tahoe when officers rushed the tent at Campground by the Lake where Rebbeca’s body was found.

El Dorado County Deputy District Attorney Anthony Sears said because the killing occurred during a kidnapping, the two could face life without parole or the death sentence if convicted.

“We don’t do this type of case very often,” Sears said. “It was a particularly heinous crime.”

Platz and Csucsai are scheduled for arraignment Oct. 25 and a Thursday hearing on the kidnapping charge. Prosecutors in Pierce County, Wash., have said they don’t plan to seek extradition while the murder charges are pending.

According to court documents from a lengthy custody battle between Platz and Rebecca’s biological father, Jose Aramburo, the couple lived together in Bellingham, Wash., until Platz moved to Fairbanks in 1994.

Platz is originally from North Pole, just outside Fairbanks, where her divorced parents still live. After moving to Fairbanks, she married Robert Platz, who at one time tried to adopt Rebbeca. The adoption was denied and the couple divorced in 1998. Robert Platz refused to comment when contacted by the Daily News-Miner last week.

During the mother and daughter’s life in Alaska, Jose Aramburo tried unsuccessfully to contact them and mailed child support checks, according to court documents.

In 1998, Jose Aramburo filed for custody of Rebecca and a legal battle ensued. Through most of the custody fight, Platz and Rebecca lived in Ohio, presumably with Csucsai.

On April 12, 2001, Alaska Superior Court Judge Mary Greene granted Jose Aramburo sole custody of his daughter and turned the case over to the state of Washington.

But the court ruling did not end the conflict. Rebecca’s two-week visit with her mother stretched into three months before police tracked them down in San Diego in June. Platz was jailed on a custodial interference charge, but was out on bail when Rebecca was kidnapped in August.

Csucsai, originally from Avon, Ohio, moved to Alaska with his family and was stationed at Eielson Air Force Base in 1993. After 10 years in the Air Force, he got out in 1995, according to his ex-wife, Angela Maddex.

Since then, Csucsai held a variety of jobs in Fairbanks and North Pole. Court records list Platz as a University of Alaska student when she lived in Fairbanks.

Csucsai and Platz moved in 1998 while Csucsai’s ex-wife and children remained in Alaska. Maddex said her children spent four summers with Rebbeca.

“Every time my kids went to visit him (Csucsai), it was at a different place,” Maddex said last week.

Maddex has corresponded with Jose Aramburo and his wife, Angelina, in Washington and said she helped the FBI search for Rebecca and her kidnappers. Maddex said a threatening letter she received from Csucsai Sept. 20 helped track him down in California.

“I just felt it was wrong. He was giving up his children for this stranger,” Maddex said.

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