A reward of $7,500 was announced Monday as law enforcement continued their search for missing 17-year-old Norma Lopez. Authorities and volunteers searched the surrounding Moreno Valley area from where the girl disappeared Thursday morning after attending summer class at nearby Valley View High School. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department told CNN they believed Noma Lopez was kidnapped.
“We believe that she was possibly taken against her will,” spokesperson Deputy Melissa Nieburger said.
Investigators found some personal belongings of Norma Lopez’ in a field near her home. “These are items that you would not leave behind,” Deputy Nieburger noted, but would not elaborate. The field is located along a path that the 17-year-old girl normally took while walking to and from school. There was also signs that there may have been a struggle.
Police were still working on getting information about a newer model green sports utility vehicle that was seen speeding away from the area about the time Norma Lopez would have been walking through. Her class at Valley View High School would have ended about 10 a.m.
Norma Lopez was supposed to meet her older sister, Sonja, and a friend after class but when she didn’t show up like she normally did, the two became concerned and began looking for the teen. After a couple hours of fruitless searching, they called 911.
“We haven’t been able to sleep, eat, or anything … knowing she’s out there, and if they’re doing any harm to her,” Elizabeth Lopez, another older sister, said. “We just want her back.”
Norma Lopez had no history of running away from home, was a good student, and was not troubled, according to her family. Given her history and the evidence found in the nearby field prompted the Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies to conclude that Lopez had been kidnapped.
SWRNN.com reported that over the weekend over 200 volunteers joined with law enforcement to help search for the missing teen. Neighbors and local residents were taking donations to add to the reward total.
“Norma, you know we love you,” Lopez’ sister said, hoping that her words would somehow reach her missing sibling. “We’re here for you. If there is a way you could call us and tell us you’re safe, we just want you home.”
Norma Lopez is described as being 5′ 7” in height and weighing about 110 pounds. The 17-year-old has brown hair and brown eyes. She was believed to have been wearing at the time she went missing, according to the sheriff’s office, a black-and-white striped sleeveless shirt decorated with a floral pattern and dark “skinny” jeans.
Anyone having any information regarding the disappearance of Norma Lopez is urged to contact call the Riverside County Sheriff’s dispatch center at 951-776-1099, or the tip line at 877-242-4345.