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Kidnaped Girl Found Safe; Suspect Seized in Stakeout

March 11, 1987|BOB BAKER and JACK JONES | Times Staff Writers

A 14-month-old Pacific Palisades girl was found wandering unharmed in an Encino park Tuesday morning, 19 hours after an armed man in a Halloween mask abducted her in broad daylight near her home and apparently kept her tied overnight to a tree in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Shortly after Jacqueline Elizabeth Newmark was found by passers-by in the Sepulveda Dam Recreation Center at 10:20 a.m., more than a dozen shotgun-wielding Los Angeles police officers seized 21-year-old Mark Faulkner at a ransom pickup spot just off Mulholland Drive, about a mile west of the San Diego Freeway.

Police Cmdr. William Booth said it was believed that Faulkner kept the child wrapped in a blanket and "secured to a tree" near that point throughout Monday night, then drove down the mountain to release her in Balboa Park at midmorning Tuesday before returning to Mulholland Drive to pick up the ransom money.

The child did not appear to be hurt or molested, police said.

Back in her home near the Riviera Country Club late Tuesday, the pretty, strawberry-blonde child played happily with a brush and a video cassette, seemingly little disturbed by the experience.

It was a different story for her parents, Harris and Carole Newmark, as they recalled the long, tense night.

"The waiting was excruciating," said Carole Newmark, her eyes still red from exhaustion.

As soon as the child was found and the Newmarks picked her up at the West Los Angeles police station, they had her examined by a pediatrician. The father, a radiologist, said his daughter had only "minimal abrasions and a slight bruise."

The terror began about 3:20 p.m. Monday when the Newmarks' live-in maid was pushing the child in a stroller about a block from their home. A neighboring family's maid was with them, also pushing a baby in a stroller.

Suddenly, the Newmarks said, a man wearing a Halloween mask pulled up in a car that had no license plates. He got out and flashed a gun.

The other maid managed to flee with her stroller, Carole Newmark said, but the gunman apparently "swooped down . . . on our lady suddenly."

The masked man "threatened to kill her or the baby" if she did not turn the child over to him, Carole Newmark said. "There was a lot of yelling and screaming, and that drew the attention of some of the neighbors, who saw the struggle."

Looked Suspicious

She said the stranger apparently had been "stalking" the neighborhood about a block away earlier Monday. A neighbor had seen him and had thought he looked suspicious.

The kidnaper threw a ransom note on the ground and roared away in his car with the child. The maid called police and then telephoned Carole Newmark, a commercial loan officer for a financial office in Vernon.

"I couldn't really understand her because she was so hysterical," Newmark said. "I was shocked beyond belief."

The terrified mother drove home through Monday afternoon's rush-hour traffic, stopping when she saw a police officer giving a motorist a ticket to ask that he call Los Angeles police and make certain that they knew about the kidnaping.

Demanded $20,000

When she finally reached home through the agonizingly slow traffic, she and her husband learned that the ransom letter demanded $20,000 and had been addressed to no one in particular, bolstering the theory that the kidnaper had simply been cruising an affluent neighborhood looking for a child to grab.

The note threatened harm to the child if police were notified, the Newmarks said. The $20,000 was to be placed in a trash receptacle on Mulholland Drive at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Throughout the sleepless night, while two police officers stayed with them, "I hoped for the best and feared the worst," Carole Newmark said. " . . . Every range of emotions."

Morning came and there was still no word. The hours, said Harris Newmark, "got longer and longer."

It was not until about 11:45 a.m. that police called to say their baby was safe.

Saw Capture

The Newmarks had had no idea what the police were doing. But Capt. Robert Hogan of Los Angeles Fire Department Station 109 on Mulholland Drive, in the hills above Encino, described the capture.

Firefighters at the station had been advised that officers were staked out, he said. Then, Hogan related, a man drove up to the turnout spot across from the fire station and looked around casually, as though he were only a sightseer. Two men in a parked gardening truck were eating their lunch, Hogan said. The man eyed them for a while, then walked over to the trash receptacle and pulled a shoe box from it.

"Then all hell broke loose," Hogan said. "They (police officers) came from all directions. . . . I guess about 13 or 15 guys from about 10 cars. They were all holding shotguns on him. . . . "

Lucky People

At the ranch-style Pacific Palisades home Tuesday night, Carole Newmark rubbed the head of Jacqueline and said, "We are the luckiest people alive. We are very, very lucky."

Both said they were extremely grateful to the police.

"They deserve a lot of credit," Harris Newmark said.

Police also expressed thanks to some news media personnel who knew of the kidnaping but withheld publication or airing of the story until after the child was found.

Police said Faulkner, a resident of the San Fernando Valley, was booked at West Los Angeles Jail on suspicion of kidnaping for ransom. No bail was set. He is expected to be arraigned Thursday morning in West Los Angeles Municipal Court.

Times staff writers Gabe Fuentes, Doug Smith and Nieson Himmel contributed to this article.

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