The search continues for a fourth day in Southern California for Norma Lopez. Riverside Sheriff’s Department authorities believe that 17-year-old was abducted Thursday, July 15, after attending a summer school class. According to the Los Angeles Times, the girl went missing while walking home from Valley View High School, which is about a mile from her house, in Moreno Valley, California, and evidence of a struggle and items found in a field near her home suggests that Norman Lopez was kidnapped.
“She had plans to meet her sister and another friend,” Sgt. Joe Borja noted at a Friday press conference. “When she didn’t arrive they began looking for her. They looked for approximately two hours, they looked in the dirt field and along the trail that she normally walks through and found some property belonging to her.”
Investigators learned that the class ended at 10 a.m. They were contacted by her older sister, Sonja, who reported the 17-year-old missing at around 12:25 when could not find the teen.
According to Borja, the teen had never been in trouble and had never run away before. Norma Lopez seemed to have no problems at home, indicating to authorities that she wasn’t a runaway. Along with the items found in the nearby field, personal items belonging to the girl that the Sheriff’s Department did not elaborate upon, there were signs of a struggle, which also indicated that she was taken against her will.
Police are looking for a newer model green SUV believed to have been in the vicinity at the time of the kidnapping. Sgt. Borja stated that those in the vehicle were not suspects, but they were wanted for questioning in hopes they may have information that could lead to locating the missing girl.
Valley News reported that Norma Lopez may have been picked up by a green newer model Ford pickup truck, but police have not confirmed any of those reports or acknowledged if the reports of the SUV and pickup might be the same vehicle.
Sheriff’s deputies and detectives spent a third day Saturday searching nearby malls and neighborhoods, canvassing homes and looking for leads. An air search turned up nothing of value.
Norma Lopez’ suspected kidnapping may or may not be family related. According to a 2002 Department of Justice missing children report, family abductions comprised about 7 percent (56,500 cases) of all kidnappings, while non-family kidnappings accounted for 2 percent (12,100 cases) of all abductions. Of those, scenarios that resulted in the death of the kidnapping victim, like that of 8-year-old Sandra Cantu in 2009, amounted to 115. Although not a large number in comparison to the overall number of abductions and one that would give investigators and family and friends hope in the search for the missing teen, it remains a cautionary number.
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s website bulletin on Norma Lopez, she is described as being 5′ 7” in height and weighing about 110 pounds. The teen has brown hair and brown eyes. She was believed to have been wearing at the time she went missing a black-and-white striped sleeveless shirt decorated with a floral pattern and blue jeans. However, the L. A. Times reported that the girl was wearing black jeans. Valley News, citing the Sheriff’s Department, reported that she was wearing gray jeans and a green sweatshirt at the time of her disappearance.
Anyone having information regarding the disappearance, kidnapping, or current whereabouts of Norma Lopez are urged to contact the Riverside Sheriff’s Dispatch Center at (951) 776-1099 or (877) 242-4345.