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'Help me' sign leads to rescue of kidnapped 13-year-old girl

'Help me' sign leads to rescue of kidnapped 13-year-old girl

The girl managed to get the attention of a passersby by making the sign from inside her kidnapper's car while he was away.

A ‘help me’ sign led to the rescue of a young girl who had been kidnapped.

Passersby in Southern California saw a 13-year-old holding up a ‘help me’ sign in a parked car, police said.

The girl, who was kidnapped in Southern California, was found in Long Beach, south of Los Angeles. She was rescued on 9 July when officers responded to a call and found the ‘visibly emotional and distressed girl’, as police confirmed in a press release shared on Thursday (20 July).

“Through their investigation, officers learned the Good Samaritans were in a parking lot when they saw the victim in a parked vehicle holding up a piece of paper with ‘help me’ written on it. They acknowledged the note and immediately called 9-1-1,” police said.

A 61-year-old man named Steven Robert Sablan, of Cleburne, Texas, was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of kidnapping and transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity - the US Attorney’s office in Los Angeles said.

According to the indictment and an affidavit previously filed with a criminal complaint regarding the case, the victim was walking down the street on 6 July in San Antonio, Texas when Saban, who was driving a gray Nissan Sentra, approached her, the press release from the Department of Justice states.

Sablan allegedly raised a black handgun to his side and told the victim to get in the car, saying: “If you don’t get in the car with me, I am going to hurt you.”

The laundromat where the kidnapped child was rescued.

Fearing for her life, the victim followed Sablan’s orders, court documents allege.

The man allegedly began driving with the victim in his car and they ended up in California two days later. Sablan repeatedly sexually assaulted the victim, court documents allege.

On the morning of July 9, Sablan parked his vehicle in a lot in Long Beach and took their clothes to be washed at a laundromat. He allegedly asked a laundromat worker, named Touch Vong, for place where he could grab food, according to an ABC7 news report.

While the man was in the laundromat, the victim stayed in the car and made a sign for help by writing 'Help me!' on a piece of paper to desperately try and get someone’s attention.

Laundromat worker Touch Vong allegedly spoke to Sablan.

Thankfully, someone noticed the sign and a witness called law enforcement. Upon their arrival, police saw Sablan standing outside his vehicle and saw the victim, who mouthed the word 'help' from inside the car, court documents state.

Law enforcement determined the victim was a reported runaway missing person from San Antonio, the Department of Justice press release explains. Police found a black BB fun, the 'help me' sign and a pair of handcuffs from the car.

Sablan, who faces a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison, has an arraignment scheduled for 31 July in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.

Featured Image Credit: U.S. Department of Justice

Topics: News, US News, Texas, Crime