LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two men grabbed a 10-year-old girl from her bedroom before dawn and held her for much of the day before dropping her off at a hospital six miles from her San Fernando Valley home with cuts and bruises on her face, police said.
Authorities Thursday were looking for the two men and trying to determine whether the kidnapping was random, although the girl said she did not know the men, police said.
“I’ve got a girl who was abducted,” Los Angeles police Capt. William Hayes said at a media briefing Wednesday night. “I don’t know why.”
While parents should be cautious, such kidnappings are “extraordinarily rare,” police Cmdr. Andrew Smith said Thursday.
“There’s certainly no serial kidnapper of kids in the valley … as far as we know,” Smith told radio station KNX-AM.
Police said one of the men was about 18 years old but released no description of the other.
At the hospital where she was being treated, the girl told investigators the men held her for nine or 10 hours at an abandoned house near her home, Hayes said.
Police believe two vehicles were involved in the abduction and officers have recovered one of them, Hayes said. Investigators have cordoned off several crime scenes including houses and a storage facility in the investigation and manhunt.
“We have a 10-year-old girl that’s been traumatized here, she was forcibly taken from her home,” Hayes said. “If these individuals are brazen enough to do that, I’m putting all the resources I have to make sure they don’t do it again.”
The girl’s parents reported her missing just before 4 a.m., and more than 11 hours later, someone who recognized her from media reports spotted her outside a Starbucks shop and summoned police officers who happened to be nearby, police Capt. Kris Pitcher said at an earlier news conference.
Police later learned the girl had been dropped at a hospital a few blocks away and had wandered to the area around the coffee shop, Hayes said.
“She basically is in shock right now,” Pitcher said.
The girl was wearing an oversized white T-shirt and was barefoot when she was found.
Her parents reported that she had been wearing a black T-shirt emblazoned with characters from the TV show “Heroes” when they last saw her in her bedroom shortly after midnight, police spokesman Richard French said. When they checked on her a few hours later, she was gone.
There were no clear signs of forced entry into the house, Hayes said, but a gate outside that had been closed was left open and investigators believe the men somehow made their way in through the back of the house.
Police released the girl’s name, description and a photo in an urgent campaign seeking the public’s help in spotting the child with distinctive long red hair. After she was found, police asked media to stop using the name and photo, but did not immediately provide a reason.