Authorities: Concerned neighbor thwarted kidnapping
Posted August 7, 2014 1:20 p.m. EDT
Updated August 7, 2014 6:07 p.m. EDT
Seven Springs, N.C. — A concerned neighbor helped foil what Wayne County authorities described Thursday as a kidnapping.
Elma Garcia alerted authorities after her next-door neighbor showed up at his home, at 117 Jimmy's Drive in Seven Springs, at about 5 p.m. Wednesday with a 4-year-old girl whom Garcia had never seen before.
The girl was inside the adjacent mobile home for about 20 minutes before Garcia confronted her neighbor.
"When I first got her, she was really scared. She looked like she was really confused," Garcia said. "She just wanted someone to hold her, so I held her and my neighbor held her. We told her not to be scared, that we're here to help her."
Nearby residents helped identify the girl, who lives a couple of miles from Jimmy's Drive.
"We took pictures of the little girl," Garcia said. "The neighbors went to (nearby) stores and the church, and a man from church recognized the little girl."
The girl, who was unharmed, was reunited with her mother after about three hours.
Oscar Juarez-Perez, 40, was charged with abduction of children and felonious restraint. He was being held in the Wayne County jail under a $500,000 bond.
Investigators said the girl had been swimming at a neighbor's home when she was abducted, and no one knows why Juarez-Perez would have been in that area.
Garcia said Juarez-Perez appeared to be intoxicated and might have confused the girl for his own child. He has two small children, she said.
"He has a little girl and he has a little boy, so he probably figured the little girl was his," she said.
Authorities said they don't know why the girl was taken and are still trying to sort out what happened and get some questions answered.