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Tip led to capture of man suspected in Northridge kidnapping

April 24, 2013|By Andrew Blankstein, Kate Mather and Richard Marosi

A phone tip, perhaps prompted by a $25,000 reward, led investigators to the man suspected in the kidnapping and assault of a 10-year-old Northridge girl, authorities said.

Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck said authorities received the information late Tuesday night about Tobias Dustin Summers, roughly three weeks after surveillance footage captured Summers crossing into Tecate, Mexico. Authorities then focused their search south of the border, he said, where the FBI offered a "highly publicized" $25,000 reward.

Baja California state police arrested Summers, 32, Wednesday morning at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center at Las Misiones, a small community about 200 miles south of the border, according to Alfredo Arenas, commander of the Baja California state police fugitive squad.

Arenas said Summers gave up without incident and police confirmed his identity through the Superman logo tattoo on his chest. Summers was surprised and frightened by the sight of the police officers, Arenas said.

“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.”

At a noon press conference in Los Angeles, Tim Delaney, the special agent in charge of the FBI's L.A. field office, said FBI agents and LAPD officers had brought Summers back to the U.S. and he is en route to Los Angeles.

The investigation was conducted by the L.A. fugitive task force, which includes the LAPD and FBI, with the help of Mexican authorities and the San Diego police department.

Beck told The Times he was "extremely pleased" at the arrest, but cautioned "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 media 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 continued. "We will find you. You cannot hide."

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

Summers was charged in his absence this month with about three dozen 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. Beck said he will be held in lieu of $19-million bail.

A felony complaint alleges Summers broke into the girl's home in the middle of the night March 27 and used a knife to abduct her. He is charged with committing numerous sexual acts on the child and taking nude photos of her.

Sources said the incident may have begun as a burglary.

The girl 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.

Days later, authorities publicly identified Summers, a career criminal, as a suspect in the case.

A federal complaint filed April 11 alleges Summers crossed into Tecate, Mexico, on March 30, "within several hours" of when he was publicly identified as a suspect.

Summers was charged along with Daniel Martinez, who pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and burglary counts in connection with the incident. Martinez, 30, was arrested just 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.

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.

It's unclear how long either man has spent behind bars.

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andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

richard.marosi@latimes.com

kate.mather@latimes.com

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