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Mexico on high alert for suspect in rape, kidnapping of L.A. girl

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

SAN DIEGO -- The search for the man suspected of kidnapping and repeatedly sexually assaulting a 10-year-old Northridge girl has extended south of the border after the fugitive was spotted crossing into Mexico, authorities said.

Video footage showed Tobias Dustin Summers, 32, crossed into Tecate, Mexico, a few days ago, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck announced Friday. It was unknown if he returned, the chief said.

Details of the video, including how it was obtained and the date it was taken, were not revealed. But sources said investigators believe it was taken after Summers was publicly identified as the suspect March 30.

Summers crossed on a “pedestrian pathway,” LAPD Cmdr. Andrew Smith said.

Mexican authorities confirmed they were assisting LAPD and searched a home in Tijuana on Tuesday but said leads on Summers’ whereabouts remained slim.

Alfredo Arenas, commander of the Baja California state police fugitive squad, said Mexican authorities are in daily contact with LAPD officials. The suspect’s 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.”

Summers was charged in his absence Wednesday on 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 the 10-year-old from her home the night of March 27 during what sources say 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.

A criminal 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.

Also charged with kidnapping and burglary was Daniel Martinez, 29, who was arrested Sunday just two miles from the girl’s home. He pleaded not guilty in a San Fernando courtroom Wednesday. If convicted, he faces up to 12 years in prison.

Authorities have described Martinez as a secondary suspect in the crime, saying they believe he waited in a car outside the girl’s home and when Summers came out with her, drove a short distance before leaving.

“We don’t think Martinez knew there was going to be a kidnapping. He thought it was going to be a burglary,” LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese told The Times on Friday. “It appears that immediately when he learned, he left the car.”

It was not known if Summers planned to take the girl or if he only intended to burglarize the home, Albanese said.

Court records show both men have extensive criminal histories, though authorities said neither is a registered sex offender. Law enforcement records indicate both were known to use drugs, and Summers was a member of the Peckerwood gang.

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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