Mexican police search Tijuana home for Northridge kidnap suspect

April 05, 2013|By Richard Marosi, Kate Mather and Richard Winton

Mexican authorities helping to find the main suspect in the kidnapping and sexual assault of a Northridge girl have distributed fliers and searched a Tijuana home, they said.

But leads on the whereabouts of Tobias Summers remained slim.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said Friday that video showed Summers, 32, crossing the border into Tecate, Mexico, a few days ago. It was unclear if he crossed back, the chief said.

PHOTOS: 10-year-old girl kidnapped from Northridge home

Alfredo Arenas, commander of the Baja California state police fugitive squad, said Mexican authorities are in daily contact with LAPD officials. On Tuesday, police searched a house in Tijuana, but Summers wasn’t there, Arenas said.

Summers' image appears in a “wanted” poster distributed by the Tijuana police department, and police have been alerted in the Baja California cities of Tijuana, Tecate, Ensenada and Rosarito Beach.

“We want to find the guy before he rapes a Mexican kid,” Arenas said. “We're thinking that he did cross the border and he is on our side of the fence, but we don’t know exactly where.”

The Baja California fugitive squad arrested 115 U.S. fugitives last year hiding out in Mexico. They have arrested 35 so far this year.

Summers was charged in his absence Wednesday 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.

Police allege he was the one who took a 10-year-old girl from her home the night of March 27 during what sources said may have begun as a burglary. The girl, barefoot and appearing battered and bruised, was dropped off about 12 hours later in a Woodland Hills parking lot.

The police complaint alleges 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 her.

Authorities identified Summers, a career criminal, last week as a suspect in the case and said later they had broadened their search to San Diego. The filing of charges could make it easier for authorities to extradite Summers from other states or Mexico.

He was charged 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 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.

Law enforcement sources told The Times 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 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, 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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