LAPD officers and detectives gather on the 8800 block of Oakdale Ave. in… (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles…)
Los Angeles police seeking to unravel how 10-year-old Nicole Ryan vanished from her Northridge home early Wednesday only to be dropped off several hours later in Woodland Hills have blocked off three crime scenes.
LAPD detectives scoured a Goodwill parking lot where the unknown person left her shortly before 3 p.m. as well as a nearby gas station. They also continued to examine the girl's home for evidence.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, LAPD officials said they believe Nicole was dropped off and then recognized by a bystander, who pointed her out to police.
It is unclear who dropped the girl off and how she may have left or been lured from her home, where she reportedly vanished from her bedroom.
"She basically is in shock right now," Capt. Kris Pitcher said.
Police are "turning over every stone so we can catch up with this individual," Pitcher said of the unidentified individual.
He said they have no leads yet.
Police said they were attending first to Nicole's physical well-being before questioning her about the events. Authorities described her as suffering from facial bruising and lacerations.
She appeared in news helicopter footage to be barefoot and wearing clothing different from what she had on when she was last seen.
"We're trying to figure out what happened to her," Cmdr. Sharon Papa said.
Nicole's mother told authorities that she saw her daughter in her bedroom about 1 a.m. Wednesday.
She checked on her about two hours later because she noticed the bedroom door was ajar. She looked in the bedroom, but the girl was gone. She searched the entire house, then called police.
Police said they took the missing report extremely seriously because the girl had no behavioral issues or problems with her parents. She had never run away before, police said.
"She wasn't that kind of kid," Cmdr. Andy Smith said.
A manager of a nearby animation studio, who saw Nicole when he went to a gas station next to Starbucks, said the girl looked drained.
"Her face was white. She looked very tired and worried," said Nicolas Jackson, manager of Moonscoop. "You could see she had some worries for the past few hours."
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