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Orange County | IN BRIEF / SANTA ANA

Missing Girl in Texas With Supposed Father

July 15, 2001|From Times Staff Reports

A 10-year-old girl abducted in front of her family's home Friday night appears to be the center of a custody dispute, authorities said.

A man claiming to be the father of Halley Benton, 10, called Texas authorities Saturday morning to tell them she was OK. He said he was awarded custody of her by a Texas court, a claim that was confirmed by police in Brenham, a town about 70 miles west of Houston. He declined to give police his exact location.

"This has been an ongoing dispute for the last several years," said Santa Ana Police Sgt. Baltazar De La Riva. "But as far as we're concerned, until we locate that child and confirm that she is safe and in good health, we're considering this an abduction."

Santa Ana police also want to review the court order before deciding whether the man faces any criminal charges.

The girl was snatched from the 1700 block of West Myrtle Street about 5:30 p.m. Friday in front of her aunt and other witnesses. The girl's relatives were not immediately forthcoming about the custody dispute, police said.

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