GARDEN GROVE — Authorities were searching Saturday for an 11-year-old girl who police said was abducted by a family friend while walking home from school the previous day.
Monica Flores, 11, was taken at 2:30 p.m. Friday while walking home with classmates from Dr. A.J. Cook Elementary School on Woodbury Road. The sixth-grader was believed to have been taken by Valentin Gonzalez, 22, who lived with Monica's family as a boarder for two years before moving out four days ago, said Garden Grove Police Sgt. Joe Johnson.
The girl's father, Pedro Gonzalez, who is not related to the suspect, said he does not believe his daughter has been harmed by Valentin Gonzalez. But Pedro Gonzalez and Rosario Ortega said they were at a loss to explain why Valentin Gonzalez would abduct their daughter. The couple also have three sons, 13, 3 and 1.
"My daughter is only 11. I don't know why he would take her," said a distraught Pedro Gonzalez, as he and his family spent a second fearful day waiting for news of Monica.
"All I want is for him to return my daughter. I don't care what happens to him."
Ortega said that several of Monica's friends raced home from school Friday to alert her that Valentin Gonzalez had taken the girl. Police said witnesses reported seeing Monica and her abductor walking toward Garden Grove City Park.
On Saturday, the family got a telephone call from Valentin Gonzalez's sister, Ortega said. According to Ortega, the sister, who also lives in Garden Grove, said Valentin Gonzalez had called her from Tijuana and said he had taken the girl there.
But Pedro Gonzalez said he believes his daughter is being kept somewhere in Garden Grove or Santa Ana.
Teresa Sanchez, who said she is Valentin Gonzalez's girlfriend, told The Times she had telephoned her boyfriend at a friend's house in Garden Grove at 9 a.m. Saturday. Sanchez, who is pregnant, said Saturday that she was not aware of Monica's abduction and her boyfriend did not say anything about the girl.
Monica's family lives in a low-income apartment complex on Erin Street. Neighbors said there are not many problems among tenants, but some complained that drug dealers have moved into some units.
It was because of drugs and gang activity that Monica was rarely allowed to play outside, and then only in front of the apartment, Pedro Gonzalez said.
"For all of the concerns we had and our overprotection, look at what happened to her," the father said.
Monica was described as 5-foot-1, weighing 90 pounds, with black shoulder-length hair and dark eyes. When last seen, she was wearing a multicolored striped shirt and blue skirt with floral ruffle at the bottom. Anyone with information about her whereabouts is urged to call Garden Grove police.