Abducted girl case: LAPD probes possible link to 2008 kidnapping
Authorities are investigating whether there is a link between Wednesday’s abduction of a 10-year-old Northridge girl and the kidnapping of three children five years ago.
That 2008 kidnapping generated media attention, but law enforcement sources stressed that it is only one of several leads they are chasing.
Public records show that one of the children kidnapped in 2008 was a relative of the Northridge girl.
Authorities alleged that two brothers kidnapped their children and took them to several foreign countries.
Court documents showed federal investigators pursued leads in Guatemala, Turkey, Canada and Mexico, before they eventually tracked the brothers and the children to the Netherlands, where they were found in November 2010 and returned to their mothers.
The brothers pleaded guilty to charges of international parent kidnapping and were each sentenced to 27 months in prison last year. They were released on Oct. 23.
A law enforcement source said the brothers continued to be under court supervision after their release. They served most of their sentence in the Netherlands and in federal custody prior to their plea.
Authorities continued their investigation into the Northridge case Thursday, a day after the girl vanished from her bedroom. 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.
Sources told The Times on Thursday the girl was sexually assaulted.
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.
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, police 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.”
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