By Letitia Stein
TAMPA Fla. (Reuters) - Police arrested a man suspected in four killings and rescued a 4-year-old boy with him in a SWAT operation at a hotel in Tampa, Florida, early on Friday, authorities said.
Adam Matos, 28, was apprehended at the Floridan Palace Hotel where investigators say he had fled with the child, Ismael Tristan Santisteban.
Matos is being held in the Hillsborough County Jail on a charge of aggravated assault. Handcuffed and guarded by officers, he told reporters the child was his son.
"I love my son, and I hope that he is safe right now," Matos said.
Authorities said the child appeared to be in good physical condition. He is being held in protective custody.
Matos is the only suspect in the killings of two men and two women whose bodies were found in a roadside ditch near the boy’s home in Hudson in Pasco County, about 45 miles north of Tampa, said Melanie Snow, spokeswoman for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office.
The identities of the bodies have not yet been released.
Sheriff's officials said they believed the man was trying to flee with the child to Key West, Florida, and checked into the hotel when he could not find a bus at a nearby depot.
Pasco sheriff's officials are seeking more information about Matos and anyone who may have interacted with him during the past few days.
Authorities told reporters they understand Matos was involved in burglaries in Pennsylvania. They are not certain where he had been living in the state, Snow said.
Matos came to the attention of Pasco County deputies on Aug. 28 when his ex-girlfriend, who is the child’s mother, called to report that Matos held a knife to her throat at the Hudson home.
Matos was not at the house when deputies arrived.
Family members asked deputies on Thursday morning to check the house, which is in a remote, wooded area, when they could not reach anyone there.
Deputies found blood in the garage, Snow said. In a search of the area, deputies saw birds flying and smelled decomposition. They found the bodies nearby.
They used cell phone records to track Matos to Tampa, where SWAT teams from Pasco County and the Tampa Police Department took Matos into custody, authorities said.
(Reporting by Barbara Liston in Orlando and Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by David Adams and Peter Cooney)