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Fugitive suspect charged in Northridge girl's kidnapping

Tobias Summers is accused of 36 counts of sexual assault after a 10-year-old disappeared from her home in a 12-hour ordeal. Another man faces lesser charges.

April 03, 2013|By Richard Winton, Kate Mather and Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times
  • David Martinez waits to be arraigned in a San Fernando coutroom on kidnapping and burglary charges.
David Martinez waits to be arraigned in a San Fernando coutroom on kidnapping… (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles…)

With Tobias Summers still a fugitive, prosecutors Wednesday charged him with kidnapping a 10-year-old girl from her Northridge bedroom at knifepoint and then repeatedly sexually assaulting her during a 12-hour ordeal.

Summers, 32, was charged in his absence with 36 counts of sexual assault as well as kidnapping and first-degree burglary, the Los Angeles County district attorney's office said. If convicted, he faces multiple life terms in prison.

For the first time, the felony complaint details a violent episode for the girl. She vanished from her unlocked Northridge home in the middle of the night March 27, during what sources said may have begun as a burglary. She was discovered missing at 3:40 a.m. by her mother, who heard a sound and went to investigate. The girl, barefoot and appearing battered and bruised, was dropped off about 12 hours later in a Woodland Hills parking lot.

The complaint alleges that Summers broke into the home and used a knife to abduct the girl. He is charged with committing numerous sexual acts on the child and taking nude photos of the girl.

Authorities identified Summers, a career criminal, last week as a suspect in the case. He remains at large, and authorities have broadened their search to San Diego. The filing of charges could make it easier for authorities to extradite Summers if he flees to other states or into Mexico.

He was charged along with Daniel Martinez, who faces kidnapping and burglary counts. Martinez, 30, was arrested Sunday just two miles from the girl's home, and is described by Los Angeles police as a secondary suspect in the crime. He appeared in a San Fernando courtroom Wednesday and entered a not guilty plea. If convicted, he faces up to 12 years in prison.

LAPD investigators and prosecutors believe Martinez waited in a car outside of the girl's home, and when Summers came out with her, drove a short distance before leaving. Martinez is not believed to have initiated the kidnapping or participated in the assault, authorities said.

Police said in a statement Wednesday that the girl was taken to an abandoned home in the neighborhood. Law enforcement sources told The Times that the incident was believed to have begun as a "hot prowl" burglary. Authorities did not immediately disclose how or why it escalated.

Court records show that both men have extensive criminal histories, though authorities said neither is a registered sex offender. Most of the crimes they have been convicted of occurred in the San Fernando Valley.

Summers has convictions for receiving stolen property, grand theft, petty theft, possession of an explosive, and presenting false identification to police, according to records. In 2009, he was convicted of battery. Originally, he was also charged with annoying a child, but that charge was dismissed.

Between 2004 and 2012, Martinez was convicted of burglary, petty theft, grand theft, resisting a police officer, and unlawfully entering a property, according to records. In April 2012, he was convicted of making threats of death or great bodily injury.

It's unclear how long either suspect has spent behind bars. But it appears Summers received an eight-month prison sentence in the petty theft case, and Martinez was sentenced to 16 months in prison in the grand theft case.

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