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California

Search for abducted teen Pearl Pinson moves to Northern California coast

Missing teen
Authorities pursue the 1997 gold Saturn sedan driven by Fernando Castro, who later died in a shootout with police.
(Courtesy of Mike Eliason, Santa Barbara County Fire Department)

Authorities Friday narrowed their frantic search for a missing teenager to a remote area about 65 miles from where she was last seen being dragged by an armed acquaintance who later died in a gun battle with police.

The Solano County Sheriff’s Office said Friday that new information was prompting investigators to focus their search for 15-year-old Pearl Pinson along a road that traverses Sonoma Coast State Park near the town of Jenner.

Sheriff’s Deputy Christine Castillo did not say what the nature of the new information was but said it came out of the investigation into the Bay Area girl’s disappearance.

The search for the missing girl has been complicated by the death Thursday of the young man suspected of abducting her Wednesday as she walked to school.

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Police fatally shot Fernando Castro, 19, in Southern California after they spotted his car and exchanged gunfire with him as they say he attempted to get away.

“This case spans from Northern to Southern California,” Castillo said Friday.

A witness saw Castro armed with a gun and pulling a screaming Pinson across a freeway overpass in the city of Vallejo, where they both lived. The witness reported hearing a gunshot while running for help.

The Sheriff’s Department said Friday that surveillance cameras captured images of Castro’s car traveling Thursday morning in Marin County, about 25 miles from where Pinson was taken and 300 miles away from where he was shot and killed hours later. The gold Saturn sedan was spotted on a freeway near San Francisco Bay, and authorities were searching the water’s edge.

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Authorities said the two teens knew each other but emphasized that they believe Pinson was taken unwillingly. Rose Pinson, the missing girl’s older sister, said she had heard Castro’s name but had never met him and described him as an acquaintance, according to the Vallejo Times-Herald.

Everyone is looking for Pearl. We aren’t doing so good,” Rose Pinson said at a vigil Thursday. “She’s always happy, she loves to laugh, loves to ride her long skateboard.”

Blood and Pearl Pinson’s cellphone were found on the pedestrian overpass where she was taken Wednesday. A day later and hundreds of miles away, Southern California sheriff’s deputies spotted and pursued Castro’s car.

Castro abandoned the sedan about 45 miles north of Santa Barbara and shot at deputies as he ran into a mobile home park, the sheriff said. He briefly barricaded himself there, but a woman inside was able to escape safely.

He stole a gray pickup from the house and opened fire at deputies again before they shot and killed him, authorities said.

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