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Family Fears 12-Year-Old Was Taken To Mexico by a Friend

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APEX — A sixth-grader from Apex Middle School has disappeared. Maria Gaona, 12, left for school Monday morning, and when her family returned home that afternoon, there was no sign of the girl. All they found was the front door open and Maria's book bag in her room.

"When I came home, she was gone," said Lino Gaona, Maria's brother. "Only her book bag was in the house."

The family believes that Gaona went to school and returned home Monday afternoon. They think the person that abducted her may have followed her bus. They also believe that it might have been a family friend.

Maria's mother and brother suspect that a 28-year-old man, who was living with them at the time, may have followed the bus and taken Gaona. They fear that he may have taken her to Mexico.

"He wanted to go with her. He was always playing around with her, and I think he was interested in her even though she was only 12," said Lino.

"We think there is a possibility that he has gone to Mexico, and possibly she is with him. Whether he has kidnapped her or whether she has gone willingly, we don't know at this point. We don't have that kind of information," said Major Danny Bellamy of the Wake County Sheriff's Department.

If he has taken her out of the country, authorities say, it makes the case much more difficult to solve.

Investigator are working with a Spanish interpretor to help them interview people who may have information about the case.

"I really want to let them know that if they have any information that it would be helpful to bring Maria home," translator Maria Pereira said. "Also that there are people here that speak Spanish and that can help get the information to the proper authorities."

Maria Gaona is described as four feet tall, weighing 90 pounds with black hair and dark eyes.

She was last seen wearing jeans and a New York Giants jacket.

Anyone who has information is asked to call the Wake County Sheriff's Department.


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