(KTLA) – A California teenager missing since Jan. 1, and who may have been held captive, has been found safe, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department announced Monday.
Alinka Castaneda, 16, left her family’s home in Carson, California, and was seen “entering an unknown vehicle” at 5 a.m. that day, the sheriff’s department said. Footage from a Ring doorbell camera captured an unidentified man walking toward Castaneda moments before she disappeared.
While the teen’s family initially believed her disappearance might have been an attempt to run away, they later received several distressing calls from the girl.
“In this phone call, she actually shared with her sister and her mom that she didn’t know where she was then and wouldn’t be allowed to leave,” Moses Castillo, a retired LAPD detective and a private investigator working on her case, told NewsNation. “She sounded like she was under duress and stressing ou.”
Castillo also told News Nation that there was at least one suspected male adult kidnapper but that there could be more. He added that the primary suspect’s name was known and had not been released.
The sheriff’s department described Castaneda as a “critical missing juvenile,” asked for the public’s help in locating her and said that there was “concern for her well-being.”
A $100,000 reward was offered for information leading to her safe return and for the arrest and conviction of those responsible for her disappearance.
Authorities did not provide any details on where Castaneda was found or described her condition, though officials did tell KTLA that she has been reunited with her mother.
It is unknown whether any arrests were made in connection with her disappearance.