An Ellerbe, N.C., woman was reunited with her two young children late Saturday after Riverside police arrested the man suspected of kidnapping them more than a year ago.

“When she arrived at DCFS, I understand it was quite a reunion,” said Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel. “I can’t imagine what that feeling must be. She had no idea where Riverside, Illinois, was.”

According to Weitzel the woman hadn’t seen her two boys since Feb. 19, 2010. On that date, Weitzel said, she and 42-year-old Genaro Pineda-Munoz had gotten into an argument. Pineda-Munoz was to have dropped off the two children, then 2 and 4 years old, at her residence.

He never showed. Instead the woman reportedly received a phone call from Pineda-Munoz, who told her, “I’m never bringing them back.”

North Carolina police were able to trace Pineda-Munoz’s cellphone signal to Indiana, but he discarded the phone along the way and the trail went cold.

But Pineda-Munoz kept heading north. According to police, he landed at 3936 Oak Park Ave. in Stickney. He allegedly told Riverside police he had been living there more than a year.

But until he pleaded guilty to various traffic offenses in front of a Cook County judge on Friday, Pineda-Munoz steadfastly denied he had kidnapped the two children still in his custody.

Pineda-Munoz remains in custody at Cook County Jail where he is expected to be interviewed by detectives from Richmond County, N.C. where he’ll likely be extradited.

For the past year, Pineda-Munoz and the two children had been flying under the radar. He had even enrolled the older of the two children, now 6, under a false name at Edison School in Stickney. School officials reportedly told police they had been given a birth certificate at the time of the boy’s enrollment in District 103.

Pineda-Munoz and the boys were living in Stickney with another woman and two other children. Weitzel said that, at this time, police do not believe the other woman is involved in the kidnapping.

“We’ll follow up with her this week,” Weitzel said.

But at 9:45 a.m. on Feb. 9 at Harlem and Ogden, Officer Eric Katzin stopped a 1998 Chevy Blazer which had no registration sticker on its rear license plate. The driver, later identified as Pineda-Munoz, did not have a valid driver’s license and gave Katzin false names during his initial investigation.

Finally, fingerprint information entered into the FBI database returned a hit for a man wanted for kidnapping out of Richmond County, N.C. Riverside police called that agency and got their reports and mugshots, which matched Riverside’s suspect. Police also received information about tattoos and other physical traits that matched their suspect.

Meanwhile, Weitzel said, the 6-year-old reportedly told police his real name and said the last time he saw his mom, “they had a fight and his dad left with him and his brother,” Weitzel said.

“This took a lot of good police work by Officer Katzin, “Weitzel said. “Cases like this take a lot of digging. It’s a lot of effort to put into a traffic stop to come up with this. It takes hours of investigative work.”