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Investigation ongoing in 2016 abduction of Pearl Pinson in Vallejo, California

The 15-year-old was headed to her bus stop in Vallejo, California on May 25, 2016, when witnesses saw her struggling with a man before being dragged into his vehicle.

On Wednesday, May 25, 2016, 15-year-old Pearl Pinson was abducted while walking to school in Vallejo, California. She hasn’t been seen since.

“She was kind-hearted,” Rose Pinson told Dateline about her sister, Pearl.

Pearl, the middle child, grew up in Vallejo, California with her two siblings – older sister, Rose, and younger brother, William.

The Pinson family.
The Pinson family.Rose Pinson

With only a three year difference between them, Rose told Dateline that she had always been close with Pearl. “We would always just go to the baseball field and hang out,” Rose said.

The Pinson family enjoyed being outdoors. Rose said it’s what made Vallejo fun. “There was a lot to do,” Rose said. “There are many parks we can go hang out at.”

And Pearl made sure to spend plenty of time in the open air. “She liked to skateboard,” Rose told Dateline. “She loved playing fetch with her dog.”

Rose told Dateline that Pearl was a “typical teenage girl.” And like many other teenage girls, Pearl had a group of friends she could always count on. And they could count on her. “She was looking out for her friends,” Rose said. Whether it was for schoolwork or anything else, Pearl was “always right there to help them.”

A freshman at the time, Pearl attended Jesse Bethel High School in Vallejo. “I heard from her teachers she was good,” Rose said. “She didn’t always pay attention, but she turned in her work.”

On the night of Tuesday, May 24, 2016, Rose was on the phone with Pearl, talking about school. “She was telling me she didn’t want to go,” Rose told Dateline. She said Pearl was having trouble with some girls at the school, but the dispute was short-lived.

Rose said that in typical teenage fashion, right after she got off the phone with Pearl that night, Pearl and the other girls made up. So early in the morning of Wednesday, May 25, Pearl headed to the bus stop which was right around the corner from their home.

“She ended up getting kidnapped,” Rose told Dateline. “She was thrown in the trunk.”

Sergeant Sean Mattson of the Solano County Sheriff’s Office spoke with Dateline. He was the lead detective in Pearl’s case after she disappeared. Sergeant Mattson told Dateline in an email that Pearl was taken around 6:42 a.m. on May 25, 2016, while headed to the bus stop on “Benicia Road near Home Acres Avenue in Vallejo.”

Sergeant Mattson told Dateline that multiple witnesses “saw a struggle between the suspect and Pinson and tried to intervene,” at a “pedestrian bridge over the cross of I-780” but were unsuccessful. He added that witnesses saw that “Pinson had blood on her face, and the suspect pointed a gun at them,” and that “blood and Pinson’s cell phone were found at the scene.”

Information about Pearl’s abduction was immediately sent out to the Vallejo community in an Amber Alert.

“We were all in shock and confused,” Rose said. Still, the family got to work searching for Pearl. “We went looking for her. We went out making posters,” Rose said. She told Dateline that the community joined the search for Pearl, too.

The next day, May 26, police received a lead.

Sergeant Mattson told Dateline the suspect’s 4-door Saturn sedan was spotted driving in Los Alamos, California. Police headed to the scene and attempted to detain the suspect, but when he shot at police they returned fire and he was killed. 15-year-old Pearl Pinson was nowhere to be found.

Fernando Castro.
Fernando Castro.Solano County Sheriff's Office

Police later identified the suspect as Fernando Castro.

Sergeant Mattson told Dateline that Castro had a “minor criminal history” and that there was no connection between him and Pearl. The sergeant also confirmed that Castro is the only known suspect in the case at this time. He added that Detective Charles Olmstead of the Solano County Sheriff’s Office is the new lead detective in Pearl’s case and that the investigation is ongoing.

Despite the lack of leads, Rose said her family hasn’t given up hope. “Everywhere we go, we still look out for her,” Rose told Dateline. “We continue to put her picture and story out there.”

One way Rose keeps Pearl’s story out there is on the ‘Pearl Team’ Facebook Page. And even now, six years later, Rose says she still hangs flyers up when she can. “We still do searches,” she added.

Pearl Pinson age progressed to 17 years old.
Pearl Pinson age progressed to 17 years old. Rose Pinson

At the time of her abduction, Pearl was described to have been 5’3”, 130 lbs. with blue/green eyes. Her naturally blonde hair was dyed green, and she had a piercing on her lower right lip. She was last seen wearing black leggings, an Oakland Raiders beanie, and a white and dark blue jacket. She also had on a purple and green Joker backpack. Pearl would be 21 years old today.

All Rose wants is for her little sister to come home. In a text, Rose told Dateline that Pearl is an auntie now and that her nephew is waiting to meet her. “If somebody, you know, sees Pearl, or you know, knows where she's at," Rose said. "Please speak up."

Anyone with information regarding Pearl’s abduction should call the Solano County Sheriff’s office at 707-421-7090 and ask to speak to Det. Charles Olmstead.