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Northridge kidnap suspect in court; girl's family offers thanks

Crime, Law and JusticeKidnappingSexual AssaultTobias SummersMexicoLos Angeles Police DepartmentFBI

The man suspected of kidnapping a 10-year-old girl from her Northridge home and sexually assaulting her appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom Thursday, but did not enter a plea.

The arraignment for Tobias Dustin Summers was instead pushed back to May 2.

Summers, a 32-year-old felon and reputed gang member, was captured early Wednesday at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Las Misiones, a small community about 200 miles south of the U.S. border, authorities said. He was taken to a Los Angeles jail later that day and held in lieu of $19-million bail.

He was charged earlier this month with three dozen criminal counts, including sexual assault, kidnapping and first-degree burglary in connection with the March 27 incident. If convicted, he faces multiple life terms in prison, prosecutors said.

In a statement issued through the Los Angeles Police Department, the girl's family thanked the law enforcement agencies involved for their work in tracking Summers down.

"Throughout this ordeal, they’ve been working around the clock hunting this man – not only for justice for our daughter, but to make sure he’s unable to hurt anyone again," the statement said.

The family also mentioned the police officers, first responders and hospital staff who treated the girl on the day of the kidnapping, saying they helped her "feel safe and secure when she needed it the most."

"Lastly, as a family we would also like to thank everyone — family, friends, members of our church and strangers who have offered prayers, good wishes and thoughts," the statement said.

"We're humbled by the outpouring of affection and concern for our daughter. It's not only helped us get through the last few weeks, but our daughter as well."

A felony complaint alleges that Summers broke into the girl's home the night of March 27 and used a knife to abduct her, then committed numerous sexual acts on the 10-year-old and took nude photos of her.

The girl was discovered missing about 3:40 a.m. by her mother, who told police she 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.

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.

Baja police said Summers was surprised and frightened by the sight of officers and taken into custody without incident. Authorities said they confirmed Summers' identity through a Superman logo tattoo on his chest.

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 Martinez and Summers have extensive criminal histories, though neither is a registered sex offender.

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kate.mather@latimes.com 

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

 

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