A kidnapped 13-year-old girl has been rescued in California after holding up a handwritten note in her captor’s parked car saying “Help Me!”.
A Good Samaritan saw the young girl waving the crumpled piece of paper in the city of Long Beach on 9 July and immediately called 911.
Police then arrested a 61-year-old suspect, Steven Robert Sablan, who is facing kidnapping and other charges.
The vehicle had been in the car park of a laundrette which the alleged captor was using at the time, reports said.
The girl, who was seized from Texas three days earlier and driven to Long Beach, was believed to have been taken inside the premises by him at one point before the rescue.
Touch Vong, who works at Easy Wash Laundromat, told NBC News she had a bad feeling when she saw the man with the child.
“He looked down at me,” said Ms Vong, who described the man as scary and immediately thought something was not right.
She said the woman who called the police was a customer of hers who told her the girl needed help.
Victim was ‘visibly emotional and distressed’
Officers responded and found the “visibly emotional and distressed girl”.
Ms Vong added: “I’m shocked, but happy because the police rescued her. I just want her and her family now to be happy and safe.”
The victim had been taken near a bus stop in San Antonio, Texas, on 6 July.
The suspect approached her in a vehicle, pointed a gun at her and demanded she got in, according to police.
Officers also said the girl was sexually assaulted while she was taken to California and they found a replica firearm in the vehicle.
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Sablan was indicted on Thursday on charges of kidnapping and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, said the US attorney’s office in Los Angeles.
The suspect, of Cleburne, Texas, was being held at the federal Metropolitan Detention Centre in Los Angeles.