284: Jim Lewis and Renae McDermott – Miami Abduction of Mother and Children

In this episode, retired agents Jim Lewis and Renae McDermott review their 1999 Miami Abduction case, where a mother and her two children were kidnapped for ransom and held for four days before they were located and rescued.

In addition to the safe return of the family, the spectacular work of the investigative team and detectives from the Sunny Isles Beach Police Department, with assistance from the FBI polygraphers, SWAT, surveillance, ERT, technically trained agents and phone tracking, resulted in life sentences for three defendants and lengthy multiple-year sentences for two others. The Miami abduction case has been featured in Reader’s Digest, Court TV, and Investigation Discovery.

Special Agent (Retired)

Jim Lewis








“The tech agent told us those phone calls from Christine are coming from that house right there and he pointed out the house. I get goose bumps now thinking about it.”—Special Agent Jim Lewis

Jim Lewis served in the FBI for 25 years. During his career he served in the Miami Division, primarily working violent crimes and crimes against children matters. He was awarded Federal Law Enforcement Officer of the Year in the State of Florida for developing and implementing the FBI’s first Internet Safety program for children.

Jim was the recipient of the 2008 National Center for Missing and Exploited Children award for his work dismantling a child exploitation network and the subsequent rescue of twelve children.

Jim also received the United States Attorney General Missing Children award for his investigation of a multi-state child exploitation ring. During his time with the FBI, he was assigned to both a Cargo Theft Task Force and the largest Public Corruption Task Force in the FBI.

Later in his career, Jim was promoted to supervise the Miami Division’s Violent Crimes Against Children squad, where he led multiple agents and detectives investigating cases of child exploitation, human trafficking, and missing/abducted children.

He was selected as Team Leader for the FBI’s national Child Abduction Rapid Deployment (CARD) team, where he successfully managed multiple high-stress, time-sensitive investigations across the country.

Jim also served as the supervisor of Miami’s Violent Crime/Fugitive Task Force, where he directed high-risk operations and investigations involving kidnappings, homicides, and robberies.

Since his retirement, he has been working as a private investigator for The D&R Agency, an investigative agency based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida providing investigative and protective security services.

Special Agent (Retired)

Renae McDermott

July 1994 – June  2021







“When there’s a family member that goes missing and some children, 9 chances out of 10, the family member that you’re interviewing becomes the prime suspect until otherwise determined.”—Special Agent Renae McDermott

Renae McDermott served in the FBI for 32 years, 27 as a special agent. She began her Bureau career as an FBI Police Officer, then as a Physical Science Technician in the Firearms and Tool Marks Unit in the Laboratory Division.

When she became an agent, she was assigned to the Miami Division where she served for ten years, investigating Public Corruption, Violent Crime and Counterterrorism violations.

Additionally, while in Miami, Renae was the airport liaison agent and was a team leader on the Evidence Response Team (ERT).

Later in her career, Renae received several promotions, supervisor in the Counterterrorism Division, Iraq Unit and International Terrorism Operations Section II at FBIHQ, supervisor of the Criminal Enterprise squad in the Dallas Division, Unit Chief in the Human Resources Division back at FBIHQ, Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the Albuquerque Division’s Criminal, Cyber, and Administrative Branch, Special Assistant to FBI Director Comey, and Special Agent in Charge of the Knoxville Field Office.

FBI Director Wray selected her as the Deputy Assistant Director and Assistant Director for Training Division at Quantico, where she served until her retirement.

Renae presently serves as a commander for the Albuquerque Police Department, overseeing the Police Academy.

The following are links to news articles about the 1999 Miami abduction:

The Ledger – 12/19/1999: Kidnapped mother, sons rescued in SWAT raid

South Florida Sun-Sentinel – 6/3/2000: KIDNAPPERS GUILTY IN SUNNY ISLES CASE 

Click here for more FBI Retired Case File Review episodes about kidnapping and abductions.

BOLO alert
The original “Be On the Lookout” alert issued for the abduction of Christine, Junior, and baby Alexander.
lawn chair
One of the four lawn chairs with Velcro restraints discover at the house where the family was held.
photo of baby Alex
The Aragao family showed their appreciation to the entire Miami Division for saving their lives.
Alexis “Spike” Vazquez and Ed Knapp worked with Jim Lewis and Renae McDermott on the Miami abduction case.















Jerri Williams

View posts by Jerri Williams
Jerri Williams, a retired FBI agent, author and podcaster, jokes that she writes about the FBI to relive her glory days. After 26 years with the Bureau specializing in major economic fraud and corruption investigations, she calls on her professional encounters with scams and schemers to write police procedurals inspired by true crime FBI cases in her Philadelphia FBI Corruption Squad crime fiction series featuring flawed female FBI agent Kari Wheeler. Jerri’s FBI for Armchair Detectives nonfiction series enables readers to discover who the FBI is and what the FBI does by debunking misconceptions about the FBI in books, TV, and movies. Her books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks wherever books are sold. She’s also the host of FBI Retired Case File Review, a true crime podcast with more than 300 episodes available on all popular podcast apps and YouTube.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to top
Malcare WordPress Security