A 10-year-old girl abducted from her Northridge home was sexually assaulted, law enforcement sources said.
The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the case was ongoing, did not provide details but said the kidnapping case has now expanded to include a sex-crime investigation.
Authorities announced Wednesday night they were searching for two male suspects, though detailed descriptions were unavailable. A second vehicle also was being sought, authorities said, but no description was given.
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.
The girl’s disappearance drew significant attention from police and media after she vanished from her bedroom overnight Wednesday. Police said her mother told investigators she last saw her daughter in her bedroom about 1 a.m. 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 two-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," Los Angeles police 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.
A manager of a nearby animation studio, who saw the girl when he went to a gas station near a Starbucks and Goodwill store near where she was found, said the preteen looked drained.
“Her face was white. She looked very tired and worried,” said Nicolas Jackson, manager of Moonscoop. “You could see she had some worries for the past few hours.”
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 the girl off and how she may have left or been lured from her Northridge home.
“We don’t know what happened inside of the house,” Los Angeles police Cmdr. Andy 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, Smith 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.”