An 11-year-old girl abducted in Springfield was found safe and her alleged kidnapper arrested Wednesday evening after an Amber Alert was issued amid an hourslong search, Massachusetts State Police said.
A car police had been looking for in connection to the abducted girl was stopped on the Massachusetts Turnpike hours after she was taken, police said. The suspected kidnapper, 24-year-old Miguel Rodriguez of Springfield, was arrested.
"What happened is, I think, every parent's worst nightmare," Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood said. "As far as we can tell, and by all accounts, it was a stranger abduction of an 11-year-old girl."
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The girl had no apparent injuries when officers recovered her, according to Clapprood.
A neighbor told NBC Connecticut that he and his wife witnessed the abduction and that he reported it to police.
"I heard the girl screaming and [a man] throwing her in the back, and I did get a good look at the car," Julius Kenney said.
Authorities issued the Amber Alert for the girl shortly before 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, police said. She was returning home from Hampden Charter School and last seen on Lafayette Street in Springfield.
"She was walking through her house. The stranger grabbed her and took her into his car, a small blue Honda Civic," Clapprood said. "She was screaming, got in — definitely unwillingly — and they left the area."
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After the girl was reported missing, the public was asked to look out for the car that was believed to be involved.
Police said that car was stopped in a work zone after a driver called 911.
"The biggest factor, I think, in this, was the assistance of the public. The tips coming in were amazing," Clapprood said. "People were out looking for this car. It was amazing. Civilians spotted this car and helped us out immensely."
Rodriguez was arrested after the car was stopped. State police initially said two people were in custody, but later confirmed only Rodriguez was in the car with the victim.
"We believe that there may be a female involved at the time of the abduction, so that's why this investigation will continue," Clapprood said. "We are told by state police there is one in custody. So he's had quite a few hours to drop off or pick up somebody, so as the investigation goes on, we will look into whether or not there was a female driver at the time of the abduction."
The girl was in the backseat of the car when it was stopped. Rodriguez had a knife in the pocket of a car door and was taken out of the vehicle at gunpoint, state police said.
Clapprood spoke minutes after the car was swarmed by state troopers, and she said that police were working quickly to reunite the girl with her parents.
"She will be transported to the hospital to be checked on. Her condition looks fair to good," Clapprood said. "Not really sure how much she went through at this point. But the parents have been notified, and as soon as we can, we will reunite parent and child, because I can't imagine what they were going through."
Kenney, the girl's neighbor, called the kidnapping "just wrong" but said police arrived to the home "in no time" after he called 911.
Anyone who with information about this incident is asked to call police as well.
It wasn't immediately clear if Rodriguez, the alleged abductor, had an attorney. Family members told Telemundo Nueva Inglaterra that he suffers from a mental illness, adding that they feel sorry for the victim's family.