A 17-year-old Rialto girl has been reunited with her family after allegedly being kidnapped and held in New York by a 24-year-old man, according to the Rialto Police Department.
Thorough detective work helped identify the location of the suspect, who was arrested on several charges, after an ordeal that lasted more than 10 days.
On April 30 at 2:20 p.m., the Rialto P.D. Communications Center received a call regarding the missing girl. Her parents were concerned after learning from her friends that she had been having conversations with a man, later identified as Elijah Clark, via the internet.
On May 2, the girl had not yet returned home, and Detective Watson of the Rialto P.D. began her search for the missing juvenile.
Through her investigation, Watson was able to obtain information related to a phone number with a New York City area code, which she believed belonged to Clark. Watson attempted to call the owner of the phone with no success, and followed with a text message asking the person with the phone to call her. Suspecting the juvenile victim could be in danger, Watson relentlessly pursued her attempts to locate the girl through various resources.
On May 5 at 1:14 p.m., Watson received a text message from the cell phone she believed belonged to Clark. The message, written by the victim, stated she needed help because Clark was refusing to let her leave, and she wanted to return home.
Watson immediately reached out to the New York Police Department with the information she had discovered during her investigation regarding Clark’s possible address.
New York P.D. personnel attempted to make contact at Clark’s residence, located in the 1600 block of Amsterdam Avenue, but were unable to contact anyone at the residence.
The following day, Watson, who was convinced the victim was being held against her will, asked New York P.D. officers to attempt to make contact at the residence once more.
At 7:47 p.m., Captain Awarro from the New York P.D. notified Watson that the girl had been rescued and Clark was taken into custody for several criminal charges, including kidnapping, false imprisonment, injury to a minor, strangulation, assault on a police officer, and multiple weapons charges.
On May 10 at about 9 p.m., the girl was returned to her home in Rialto with her parents.
In addition to the criminal charges Clark faces in New York, the Rialto P.D. has recommended several additional criminal counts to the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, including contact with a minor with intent for lewd acts and meeting with a minor for lewd purposes.
The Rialto P.D. requests anyone with information related to the investigation contact Lieutenant James Mills at (909) 820-2632. Witnesses can also anonymously report information through WeTip at (800) 782-7463.