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Parents Plead For Return Of Missing Girl

The parents of an 11-year-old Florida girl whose apparent abduction was videotaped pleaded on national television Tuesday for her safe return. Anyone with information on Carlie Brucia's disappearance should call (888) 356-4774 (888-FL-MISSING)
/ Source: NBCMIAMI.com

The FBI and state law enforcement officers joined the search Tuesday for an 11-year-old girl whose apparent abduction was videotaped by a car wash surveillance camera.

FBI spokeswoman Sara Oates said one agent is initially assisting the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office with the investigation of Carlie Brucia's disappearance but others will get involved as necessary, she said.

"We are offering our assistance and anything they need to locate her," Oates said.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is also assigning an agent to the case, spokesman Larry Long said.

Meanwhile, a national hot line has been established -- 1-888-382-6237 -- to gather information about the girl's disappearance.


Anyone with information on Carlie Brucia's disappearance can call 1-888-356-4774 (888-FL-MISSING) or 1-888-382-6237. Anyone with information can also call the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office at (941) 861-4260.


A surveillance camera behind Evie's Car Wash caught Carlie Brucia, a sixth grader at McIntosh Middle School, being led away by a white male in his late 20s or early 30s as she walked home at about 6:20 p.m. Sunday, the Sarasota County Sheriff's office said.

She did not appear to know the man, who was wearing a mechanic's shirt with a name patch on one breast. The man spoke to Carlie for a few seconds, then grabbed her by the arm and lead her away. Her parents say they don't recognize the man.

The business was closed, and Carlie was walking past as a short cut home, said Sgt. Paul Richard.

Richard said officials don't know where they went, or whether they left the area in a vehicle.

"They just walked right off camera," he said.

Carlie's stepfather, Steven Kansler, had driven to the area to give her a ride after a friend's mother had called to say she had seen Carlie walking home.

When he didn't find her, he called the sheriff's office about 6:30 p.m. A search did not find her. The car wash's owner checked the tape Monday and found the images of her abduction, which have been broadcast nationwide.

Though officers started their search for her on Sunday evening, they did not receive the video camera's record until Monday afternoon, sheriff's officials said. At that point, they issued an Amber Alert.

Officers were searching the neighborhood of the car wash when the owner offered to check the tape from the motion-activated camera behind his business, said Sgt. Chuck Lesaltato. What the tape showed was the first lead on Carlie's disappearance.

Parents Plead For Carlie's Return

The girl's father, Joe Brucia, said detectives have told him that they have interviewed some people, but have no prime suspect. Investigators have called a Tuesday afternoon press conference to discuss the case.

"To the man who abducted her, you've done a considerable amount of damage," Brucia said on NBC's "Today." "Please stop. Release my daughter. Let her go. With some help and some love she can heal. Give us back our daughter."

"I need her," said Susan Schorpen, the girl's mother. "She's loved and she's special. She needs to come home. Carlie is a wonderful, kind little girl. Carlie needs to be home with her family. We desperately need her. Please release Carlie. Please give me my baby."

The family's modest home on the edge of a busy, commercial section of the city is a bit more than a mile from the house where Carlie was visiting her friend Sunday. The car wash is part of a complex that includes a miniature golf course, a driving range and an ice cream parlor.

Family friend Chessie Huber described Carlie as a beautiful girl who loves actress Jennifer Lopez, going to the mall and hanging out with her friends. The blond, blue-eyed youngster, who is 5-feet-tall and 120 pounds, is known for greeting friends with warm hugs. She was wearing a red top and blue jeans, and carrying a pink backpack when she disappeared.

"Carlie is not the type of child who would just go off," said Huber, whose 6-year-old son is a playmate of Carlie's little brother, Leaf. "She's a very responsible child."

Huber said she thinks Carlie's body language in the surveillance video indicates that she probably didn't know the man who grabbed her.

"If you look at Carlie's face, she's shocked," Huber said. "Her life had to be threatened."

Huber said she the incident has shocked her and others who live in Sarasota, which is about 45 miles south of Tampa on Florida's Gulf Coast.

"Sarasota is a safe neighborhood," she said. "I moved from New York City. I felt safe here. I don't feel safe anymore."

Robert Hagemann, principal at McIntosh Middle School where Carlie is a sixth grader, said the girl is personable and animated and has many friends. "She is a delightful young lady."

He said that the school has increased security and district counselors were meeting with students.

He said many of the children are sad, frightened and shocked. He said students are being encouraged to discuss their feelings but to also remain hopeful that Carlie will be found. School officials are also being encouraged to "think optimistically and have a plan to celebrate and to also have a plan if the news is tragic."

Carlie, who is about 5-feet-tall and 120 pounds, has blond hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a red top and blue jeans, and carrying a pink backpack.

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