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Missing Girl Surfaces, Says She Was Kidnaped

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A 17-year-old Sun Valley girl who disappeared Friday night while walking from her home to her family’s nearby restaurant showed up Monday at a hospital and told police she had been kidnaped.

Maria Kaffatos was treated at Pacifica Hospital in Sun Valley. She was uninjured except for minor bruises, Los Angeles police said.

She had been reported missing by her parents when she failed to show up for work at the restaurant. A kidnaping investigation was launched when her father found her purse and a shoe on the street she would have taken.

“She claimed she was kidnapped,” said police Lt. Ron Lewis. He said she told him that as she was walking, a man forced her into a car with another man and a woman. She described them as “Iranian or Armenian” and said they took her to a tall building downtown off the Alameda Street off-ramp.

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“During the time she was held, there was no ransom demand,” Lewis said. The girl told authorities her kidnapers wanted her to obtain the address and phone number of “an individual she knew and they knew” so they could contact him.

He said he could not explain further.

According to the girl’s account, she was released Sunday night, spent the night in a downtown park and received a ride Monday from a stranger who asked her if she needed help. He dropped her in Sun Valley with some change for a pay phone, and she called friends because she “was concerned her parents would be angry and think she just ran away.”

Her friends took her to the hospital, she said.

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Maria, the oldest of three sisters and a student at Burbank High School, disappeared after leaving her home for the two-block walk along Vinedale Avenue to the Old Fashioned Drive-In on Glenoaks Boulevard, where she often worked for her parents after school, Lewis said.

After the disappearance, the girl’s father, Markos Kaffatos, walked the route himself and discovered one of her tennis shoes in the street and her purse in a driveway.

When she reappeared, the girl told Lewis she deliberately kicked off her shoe and dropped her purse as she was being abducted, hoping it would help searchers find her.


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