A kidnapped 13-year-old girl in California has been rescued after grabbing a handwritten note in her captor’s parked car that read “Help me!”.
A good Samaritan saw the young girl waving a piece of paper in downtown Long Beach on July 9 and immediately called 911.
Police then arrested a 61-year-old suspect, Steven Robert Sablan, who faces kidnapping and other charges.
According to reports, the vehicle was in the car park of a laundry that the alleged kidnapper was using at the time.
The girl, who was captured from Texas three days ago and flown to Long Beach, was believed to have been taken inside the compound at one point before the rescue.
Touch Wong, who works at EasyWash Laundromat, told NBC News that she felt bad when she saw the man with the child.
“He looked at me,” said Ms Wong, who described the man as creepy and immediately thought something was wrong.
He said the woman who called police was a customer of his who told him the girl needed help.
The victim was ‘appearing emotional and distraught’
Officers responded and found an “appearing emotional and distraught girl.”
Ms Wong added: “I’m shocked, but happy because the police saved him. I just want him and his family to be happy and safe now.”
The victim was taken near a bus stop in San Antonio, Texas on July 6.
According to police, the suspect approached her in a vehicle, pointed a gun at her and demanded she get inside.
Officers also said the girl was sexually assaulted when she was driven to California and found an imitation firearm in the vehicle.
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Sablan was charged Thursday with kidnapping and transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles said.
The suspect, from Cleburne, Texas, was being held at the federal Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles.