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Body of Girl Discovered in Griffith Park

Times Staff Writers

The body of a young girl was found in a trash can near Griffith Park Observatory early today.

Investigators said the girl closely matched the description of Nadia Puente, a 9-year-old who was abducted in Santa Ana on Monday afternoon. Her family reported her missing at 5:30 p.m. after she did not return from school. Santa Ana police drove to Los Angeles this morning to examine the body.

Police said the girl was discovered by a transient searching for aluminum cans about 1 a.m. Nadia, a fourth-grader at Diamond Elementary School in Santa Ana, was walking to her nearby home about 2:10 p.m. Monday when a man in a small, gray sedan stopped to talk to her, fellow students told police.

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The students said she got into the car and drove away with the man, described as curly-haired, in his early or mid-30s, wearing a goatee.

After Nadia’s parents--Armando and Sara Puente--reported her missing, Santa Ana police launched a search of the neighborhood, using bloodhounds and helicopters.

The transient told Los Angeles police that he had found a girl’s body in a 30-gallon trash can on Observatory Road in Griffith Park. Officers said the victim, wearing a black-and-white blouse, a black skirt and white sneakers--the same clothing Nadia had been wearing--apparently was already dead when she was crammed into the can.

No Suspects in Case

In an attempt to preserve evidence, the body was transported to the Los Angeles County coroner’s office in the trash can. The cause of the girl’s death and whether she had been attacked sexually were not immediately determined. Officers said they have no suspects in the case.

Officials at Nadia’s school described her this morning as a “good student,” a “fine young girl” and “very well thought of.” They said she was elected recently to serve on the student council.

The officials said Nadia’s parents have been “heartbroken” since her disappearance.


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