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Suspect in girl's kidnapping, sexual assault arrested in Mexico

Tobias Dustin Summers, who police allege took the 10-year-old from her Northridge home, was found in a rehab facility. He is expected to appear in court Friday.

April 24, 2013|By Andrew Blankstein, Kate Mather and Richard Marosi, Los Angeles Times
  • Tobias Dustin Summers, 32, is escorted by Los Angles police officers shortly after arriving in the United States from Mexico. Summers is suspected of kidnapping and assaulting a 10-year-old Northridge girl. He was captured at a rehabilitation center south of Tijuana, authorities said.
Tobias Dustin Summers, 32, is escorted by Los Angles police officers shortly… (Fox 5 San Diego )

A man who police allege kidnapped a 10-year-old girl from her Northridge bedroom and sexually assaulted her was captured Wednesday at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Mexico, ending a monthlong international dragnet.

Tobias Dustin Summers, a 32-year-old felon and reputed gang member, was found in Las Misiones, a small community about 200 miles south of the border, said Alfredo Arenas, commander of the Baja California state police fugitive squad.

Officials did not provide details about his movements in Mexico, but LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said a phone tip received late Tuesday night narrowed the focus of the search. The FBI relayed that information to Mexican authorities, who made the arrest.

Although fliers distributed among authorities in San Diego and Mexico described Summers as possibly armed and dangerous, Arenas said the suspect was surprised and frightened by the sight of officers and arrested without incident. Police confirmed Summers' identity through a Superman logo tattoo on his chest.

"I'm very happy that we caught this trash," Arenas said. "I always make a point to capture people that have sex with children. Because if given the opportunity, they will rape a Mexican child."

Summers was charged earlier this month with three dozen counts, including sexual assault, kidnapping and first-degree burglary, in connection with the March 27 incident. A felony complaint alleges that he broke into the girl's home and used a knife to abduct her, then committed numerous sexual acts on the child and took nude photos of her.

He is expected to be arraigned Friday in a Los Angeles courtroom.

The girl was discovered missing about 3:40 a.m. by her mother, who heard a noise and went to check on her daughter. Dozens of law enforcement officials quickly joined the search, which ended about 12 hours later when the girl was found wandering in a parking lot several miles away. She was barefoot, dazed and appeared to be wearing different clothes than those she wore when taken from her home.

Days later, Los Angeles police publicly identified Summers as their primary suspect. A federal complaint alleges that he crossed the border into Tecate, Mexico, "within several hours" of that announcement.

Arenas said Summers checked into the rehab facility under a fake name and, judging by its remote location, said: "Obviously, this guy wasn't interested in getting rehabbed, just trying to hide out."

Investigators broadened their search to San Diego and then, after receiving the video footage, south of the border. Mexican authorities distributed a "wanted" poster and police were alerted in cities including Tijuana, Tecate, Ensenada and Rosarito Beach. The FBI also issued the $25,000 reward, Beck said.

Summers was returned to Los Angeles on Wednesday afternoon, where Beck said he would be held in lieu of $19-million bail.

Beck said he was "extremely pleased" at the arrest, but cautioned that "there's a long way left to go in this case."

"We can never make whole the lives of that family and the young girl after this horrific event," Beck said later at the news conference. "But we can and we will and we do make plain to anybody in this city that thinks they can commit that kind of crime and remain free after doing so — we can make sure that they know that is not true."

"We will hunt you," he said. "We will find you. You cannot hide."

The girl's family declined requests for interviews through the LAPD, but her mother told KTLA that she was "relieved that he's been captured and glad that he won't be doing this to anyone else."

Also charged in connection with the case is Daniel Martinez, who pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and burglary counts earlier this month. Martinez, 29, was arrested two miles from the girl's home, and was described by Los Angeles police as a secondary suspect in the crime. If convicted, he faces up to 12 years in prison.

Police do not believe Martinez initiated the kidnapping or participated in the assault, but was believed to be the driver in what authorities said began as a burglary.

Both men have extensive criminal histories, though neither is a registered sex offender. It is unclear how long either man has spent behind bars.

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.

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