Young girl evades kidnapping in Sanger

Two assailants in a white van attempt to abduct 9-year-old girl near JFK park

By Darren Fraser
Published February 24, 2024  • 
10:00 am
(Kenny Goodman)
(Kenny Goodman)

SANGER – A Jefferson Elementary student on her way home from school was pulled into a van by a masked assailant, and briefly held against her will, before she was let go roughly a block away from where she was abducted.

The incident occurred at 1:45 p.m. on Feb 21. According to Sanger Police, the 9-year old was walking past JFK Park when a white van pulled up alongside her. The kidnapper, who the girl later identified as male, was dressed in black. 

The unknown male grabbed the girl by her arm and pulled her into the van, which was driven by a female. According to the girl, the woman had short hair and a light complexion. The two assailants did not speak during the brief ordeal.

After proceeding for about two blocks, as the girl screamed, the driver stopped the van. The kidnappers released the girl, who ran home.

Sanger Police Commander Joshua Johnson said the department’s investigation is ongoing.

“As I speak, detectives are in the field,” he said. Johnson said aside from their gender, little is known about the kidnappers at this time.

Police have increased patrols at Jefferson and other schools in the area.

In a Feb. 22 press release, Johnson said, “In light of recent events, we have intensified patrols in the vicinity of our schools to ensure the safety and security of all children within our community.”

Johnson said the investigators are combing through video footage from the vicinity of the kidnapping.

“Our investigative team is actively working to confirm all pertinent details about the incident,” he said in the press release. “Our efforts include the thorough collection from the vicinity, conducting interviews with individuals in the area and pursuing any leads that may assist in identifying the suspects involved.”

The girl’s mother, Yeni, told ABC30 she was on her way to pick up her daughter when she encountered her on the street.

“I asked her what happened. She could not tell me a thing,” said Yeni. “She was crying. I tried to calm her down so that she could tell me what happened.

“We are not in a safe place,” the mother said. “We can’t trust anyone. As soon as you leave your house, anyone can take your children.”

Yeni said her daughter is traumatized and will not leave the house. Despite the trauma, the girl was able to draw a picture of her abductors. In the drawing, the male is dressed in all black. His shirt bears some type of logo. The female, too, is dressed in black and has light-colored hair. According to the girl’s mother, both kidnappers had blue eyes.

Sanger Unified School District Superintendent Dennis Wiechmann told the district will increase the number of staff before and after school to supervise students.

“We have increased our presence from administrators to campus safety officers,” said Wiechmann. “We need to make sure our parents understand how to respond and our students know how to respond. Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t talk to somebody if they start asking you questions.”

Darren Fraser