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Police to re-interview abducted Northridge girl, seeking clues

March 28, 2013|By Kate Mather and Richard Winton

Authorities hope another interview with a 10-year-old girl abducted from her Northridge home will help them glean more information about her captors and the roughly 12 hours she was missing, police said Thursday.

Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Andy Smith said at a news conference Thursday that although detectives spoke with the girl after she was found about 3 p.m. Wednesday, she was "traumatized" and able to provide only some information.

"We didn't get everything that we'd like to get," he said.

Smith said investigators hope to re-interview the girl, who is resting at home with her family, sometime Thursday afternoon. The girl told authorities she was put in several vehicles "throughout the course of the 12-hour ordeal," Smith said.

A storage facility has been searched, as has a black truck believed to be involved.

Authorities are also appealing to the public for information about two male suspects. Detailed descriptions were not available, but one suspect was thought to be about 18 years old. Anyone with information about the men or abduction is asked to call (213) 486-6890.

"No clue, no matter how slight," will be ignored, Smith said.

Investigators are pursuring several theories about what could have happened to the girl, including a possible link to a high-profile international child abduction in 2008 that involved her relatives.

Their investigation began early Wednesday after the girl vanished from her bedroom. The girl's mother told investigators that she last saw her daughter in her room about 1 a.m., but when she noticed the door ajar about 3:30 a.m., the girl was gone.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation joined the search, and authorities searched door to door in a 2-mile radius from the home in the 8800 block of Oakdale Avenue.

The girl reappeared shortly before 3 p.m., when a man spotted her in a parking lot near Oxnard Street and Canoga Avenue, some six miles away from her home. He pointed her in the direction of nearby police officers, who were on routine patrol.

She had cuts and bruises, some to her face, and was "in shock," LAPD Capt. Kris Pitcher said. In news helicopter footage, she appeared to be barefoot and wearing clothing different from what she had on when she was last seen.

Sources told The Times on Thursday that the girl was sexually assaulted.

The girl was identified by The Times, citing authorities, after she went missing. However, it is the policy of The Times not to identify victims in cases of alleged sexual crimes.

LAPD officials said they believe the girl was dropped off at a nearby Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Woodland Hills. It remains unclear who dropped her off and how she may have left or been lured from her Northridge home.

"We don't know what happened inside of the house," Smith said Wednesday. "But it certainly would appear that she didn't make it from her house over here a distance of some six miles all by herself."

Police said they took the missing-child 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," Smith said.

Pitcher said police are "turning over every stone so we can catch up with" the people responsible for the girl's abduction. Authorities are also reviewing surveillance footage.

Still, police cautioned, there is no evidence someone is roaming neighborhoods looking to kidnap children.

"We're going to search every facet of this case, to find out what happened, and to get to the bottom of it," he said. "It's every parent's nightmare: In the middle of the night you go check on your child … your child is gone."

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