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13-year-old kidnapped in Texas rescued in California

13-year-old kidnapped in Texas rescued in California

A 13-year-old girl who was kidnapped in Texas and sexually assaulted was rescued in Southern California when a passerby saw her holding a paper with the word “help me” inside a parked car, police and federal authorities said.

The rescue occurred on July 9 in Long Beach, south of Los Angeles, when officers responded to a 9-1-1 call and found the “girl visibly emotional and distressed,” police said in a press release issued Thursday.

“Through their investigation, officers learned that the Good Samaritans were in a parking lot when they saw the victim in a parked vehicle holding a piece of paper with the word ‘help me’ written on it. They recognized the note and immediately called 911,” police said.

Steven Robert Sablan, 61, of Cleburne, Texas, was arrested and indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on charges of kidnapping and transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, the Los Angeles federal attorney’s office said.

Sablan was being held at the Metropolitan Federal Detention Center in downtown Los Angeles. It is not known at this time if he has a lawyer.

The girl was walking down a street in San Antonio, Texas, on July 6 when Sablan drove up, showed her a gun and said, “If you don’t get in the car with me, I’m going to hurt you,” an FBI agent wrote in an affidavit supporting the criminal complaint.

According to the account, the girl had left her home without telling her parents because she wanted to visit a school friend who had moved to Australia a year earlier, but they had continued to talk through an internet chat room.

At some point, after getting into Sablan’s car, the girl told him about her friend, and he told her he could take her on a cruise to Australia, but she would have to do something for him, the affidavit says.

The suspect stopped the vehicle and sexually assaulted the girl, who told him to stop, but was scared he might hurt her if she didn’t, the officer wrote.

Sablan sexually abused the girl several more times en route from San Antonio, through New Mexico and Arizona to California, according to the affidavit. Meanwhile, the girl’s mother reported her missing to San Antonio authorities on July 7.

In Long Beach, the suspect parked at a laundromat and told the girl to change her clothes, then took her and his clothes inside, creating the opportunity for the girl to write “help me” on a piece of paper, according to the document.

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