Authorities confirmed that a 15-year-old girl, who was on her way home from school Friday, was kidnapped, forced into a vehicle, driven around for an hour and raped repeatedly. Sheriff Department officials said the victim was able to give deputies an accurate description of the three Latino men who kidnapped and raped the young girl.
Three assailants are currently the focus of the county-wide search. The Sheriff Department says multiple agencies are working together and are expected to sort through the numerous leads from witnesses all weekend.
The alleged incident happened near San Dieguito High School at approximately 4:10 p.m. on Friday.
The victim told authorities that one man grabbed her from behind and forced her into the back seat of an older white mid-sized vehicle where two more suspects were waiting. Then the perpetrators sped away from the scene, according to Sheriff's spokeswoman Captain Sherri Sarro.
The victim also told authorities that the men drove through area residential streets for an hour while they repeatedly sexually assaulted her. Once the suspects were finished they drove the 15-year-old back to the high school where she was abducted and pushed her out of the car.
However, Capt. Sarro said they didn’t know what grade or high school the victim attended.
Investigators are taking the abduction and sexual assault seriously says Justin White, sergeant of the Sexual Assault Division at the Encinitas Sheriff substation. He reported that 10 detectives are working this case around the clock and have been searching the community hoping to locate leads from nearby residents who may have information leading to the arrest of the three Latino men.
The victim contends the men did not brandish a weapon, but Sergeant White said that it doesn’t mean the suspects were not armed.
“The victim has given us enough details and we are putting together a composite sketch of the men,” said Sergeant White at a press conference. Very few details about the rape were released as the investigation is ongoing; however, the victim did receive a rape kit evaluation.
The young girl was taken to an area hospital by her parents and given a Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) kit or a Sexual Offense Evidence Collection (SOEC) kit said Captain Sarro. The results were not immediately known, but it is highly unlikely that the outcome will be given out because the victim is a minor.
Law enforcement officers also said this is an active, ongoing investigation and they are hopeful an arrest will be made soon.
Capt. Sarro indicated they had contacted Customs and Border Protection shortly after the assault and issued a “Be On the Look Out” (BOLO), especially since the U.S./Mexico border is only minutes from the crime scene.
Sergeant White also admitted that they were looking through surveillance video from the school and area businesses in an effort to shed light on what may have happened as well as get more detailed descriptions of the criminals.
The three suspects are described as Hispanic between the ages of 20 and 32. The first suspect is approximately 6-feet tall, thin, a shaved head, thin mustache and a tattoo on the back of his head (possibly with a ‘6’ or ‘619’ on it) and he was wearing a black long sleeve shirt with baggy jeans.
The second suspect was between 5-feet-8 inches and 5-feet-10-inches tall, medium build, short brown hair, dark brown complexion with some acne and a goatee, he was wearing a white t-shirt and blue shorts.
Suspect three, who was the driver of the vehicle, he had green/hazel eyes, dark-brown complexion, short hair, medium build, a thin mustache and goatee and he was wearing a dark blue t-shirt and possibly had a scar on his neck.
The quiet community of Encinitas just north of San Diego is known for its young families and low crime rates. The city’s Mayor, Dan Dalager was on hand to reassure city residents the Sheriff’s substation was doing everything possible to apprehend the culprits.
“I just want families to know that the Sheriff crews who are working this are real good,” said Mayor Dalager, who has lived in the community his entire life. “Crime is crime and law enforcement will do everything necessary to capture these criminals no matter their ethnic background.”
As news of the rape floods the community, Sheriff Capt. Sarro wanted to reassure parents that schools can expect a strong, visible presence first thing Monday morning. The Sheriff Department is also working with area schools to inform parents what happened and to ensure they take extra precautions when traveling to and from school.
The Sheriff Department urges anybody with information about the crime to contact Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477 or the Sheriff Department at 858-565-5200.
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