LOS ANGELES (AP) — Nearly 50 detectives hunted Friday for clues to kidnappers who snatched a 10-year-old girl from her bedroom and dumped her, scratched and barefoot, miles from her home.
Detectives worked around the clock to determine whether the abduction was random and whether there was a connection to the kidnapping of cousins of the girl five years ago by their fathers.
The girl has said the two men who kidnapped her before dawn Wednesday were strangers and the abduction was being treated as a random event that could present a threat to the community, police said.
Investigators were canvassing the area's surveillance cameras, checking on local registered sex offenders, and digging into any possible clues related to the girl's family, acquaintances and Internet contacts.
The public was being asked to provide any scrap of potential information.
"We're taking this very seriously and we want to bring closure to it as soon as we can," Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese said.
The girl's aunt, Christine Stackhouse, said she had told the girl "that she's going to be OK, that we're going to protect her and the police are going to find the criminals," she told KABC-TV.
The girl was recovering, she added.
"She wants to go to church on Easter Sunday, she wants to pick up Easter eggs, and all that stuff," Stackhouse said.
Investigators believe the girl was driven around the San Fernando Valley in a couple of cars and taken to at least two locations, including a storage facility, before being dropped off near a hospital and wandering to a Woodland Hills strip mall.
More than 11 hours after she vanished, someone who recognized her from media reports spotted her outside a Starbucks about six miles from her home and summoned nearby police officers.
Police officials have publicly said the girl had bruises and scratches and was in shock when she was found. She was barefoot and was wearing an oversized white T-shirt — not the same clothing she had on when her parents checked on her before the abduction, police have said.
The Los Angeles Times reported that law enforcement sources said she was sexually assaulted.
The Associated Press does not identify victims of sexual assault.
The case is being treated as a "stranger abduction" but investigators also are looking at whether there might be a connection to the 2008 case, Albanese said.
That case involved two brothers who took their three sons out of the country without permission of their ex-wives. One boy was Stackhouse's son, which would make him a cousin of the abducted girl.
The youngsters and the brothers were found in the Netherlands in 2010. The brothers pleaded guilty to international parent kidnapping and sentenced last year to 27 months in prison but were released in October.