National/World

10-year-old found alive after going missing in Calif.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Police said Wednesday evening that a 10-year-old girl who went missing in the predawn hours from her Northridge, California, home was kidnapped by two men.

She told police that one of the suspects was a Caucasian male about 18. There was no suspect description for the other man, according to Captain William Hayes of the LAPD.

At a Wednesday evening press conference, Hayes also said the men were strangers to the girl. Officials said there were several "crime scenes," including a storage facility at Mason and Nordhoff and an abandoned home yet to be located.

The girl was dropped off at a Kaiser Hospital. She was found wandering in a Starbucks parking lot around 3 p.m. Wednesday about six miles from her home.

In addition to the two suspects, two different vehicles were reportedly involved in the crime. A black pickup truck has been recovered and is being processed for evidence, said authorities.

Police said the girl had "facial bruising and lacerations." Family members say that the girl might have also had "a possible head injury."

Hayes said he did not know why the girl was targeted. The girl was taken to a West Hills hospital to be examined.

"She was forcibly taken from her home and was released over here and was held by individuals for approximately nine to ten hours," Hayes said. "She was dropped off by the suspects at a location, Kaiser Hospital at Desoto and Burbank. And she walked from that location to here where she was recovered.

"We can't determine forced entry, I do have teams going back to process the house and determine if we can find out how the suspect actually got in. We do know that a side gate was opened," Hayes said.

"It's a miracle," the girl's grandmother said.

"I'm very happy that she's finally found and she didn't go through a lot, you know. I'm glad she's found. That's all I can say," said aunt Christine Stackhouse. "I'm ecstatic, I'm really thrilled. I'm happy. I just say, praise God."

The girl was spotted by someone who recognized her from information that had been publicized and contacted authorities, police Capt. Kris Pitcher said.

"She basically is in shock right now," Pitcher said. "She's walking, she's talking, she's conversing with the officers and with the FBI agents, and with the doctors and the nurses at the hospital."

The girl was wearing an oversized white T-shirt and was barefoot when she was found after a nearly 12-hour search. Her parents reported the night before that she had been wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with characters from the TV show "Heroes" before she vanished from the family home in Northridge.

Los Angeles police asked that the girl's name not be used because they were still investigating her disappearance.

"We are turning every stone we can to catch up with this individual," Pitcher said.

The girl's parents said she was last seen in her bedroom after midnight and was gone when they checked on her a few hours later, police spokesman Richard French said.

Officers went door to door in a two-mile radius and interviewed the girl's classmates and friends. The FBI's child abduction unit was also involved in the search, Pitcher said.

Police Lt. Terri Brinkmeyer said the girl did not have a history of running away.

"She's a good kid. She's not a troublemaker, and this isn't anything she would normally do," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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