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Police Continue Search for Missing 12-Year-Old

August 11, 2005|Wendy Thermos | Times Staff Writer

Gardena police continued their search Wednesday for a missing 12-year-old girl and three people seen with her in a surveillance video recorded last week at a nearby hotel.

Erica Seeney's parents, Robin and DeAndre Seeney, are certain it is their daughter on the videotape, said her grandmother, Sylvia Swilley. Her parents, however, did not recognize the people with her, she said.

Swilley said she believes the talkative, friendly youngster might have gone somewhere with one or more acquaintances who then kept her against her will.

"I feel that she went off with someone she knew, but not to be gone, do you know what I'm saying?" Swilley said. "I don't think she's willingly staying away, certainly not for five nights."

Erica left her home in the 15800 block of Western Avenue for school at 7:15 a.m. last Friday and has not been heard from since, police said.

Using search dogs, investigators were able to trace the girl's scent to a hotel on the same street. They reviewed the hotel's surveillance tapes and found that the girl had entered one of the rooms about 8:15 a.m. Friday with three other people.

But police have declined to discuss details of the case, including whether they believe the child is the victim of foul play.

"The police said today that because she did not seem to be forced into the room, they're very hopeful," Swilley said.

She said that Erica was not the type to run away from home and that the family is worried because children her age are so vulnerable.

"When I talked to a few of her little girlfriends from the school, they said Erica wouldn't run away without talking to them about it," the grandmother said. "She had never missed school until that day. She had missed a couple of fourth-period classes in the last three weeks, but she never skipped a day of school."

When Erica stayed at Swilley's home for several days last December, the girl baked cookies, played Monopoly in the evening and enjoyed Christmas dinner with family and friends.

"My husband said she's such a scaredy-cat, she had to have a nightlight outside her room because she was afraid to walk in the dark," the grandmother said.

Police described the missing African American girl as 5 feet, 6 inches tall, 140 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a white shirt, blue jeans and white shoes.

Detectives asked anyone with information to call (310) 217-9670.

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