11-year-old girl kidnapped off the street found after motorist spots suspect's car

The girl was walking home from school in Springfield, Massachusetts, when Miguel Rodriguez forced her into the back of his car, police said.
Image: Miguel Rodriguez
Miguel Rodriguez, who is being charged with abducting an 11-year-old girl, is arraigned in Springfield District Court, in Springfield, Mass. on Jan. 16, 2020.Leon Nguyen / The Republican via AP, Pool

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By Minyvonne Burke

A Massachusetts girl was found safe, and a man was taken into custody Wednesday evening in connection to a kidnapping that sparked an hourslong Amber Alert.

The 11-year-old had just gotten off a school bus and was walking on a street toward her home in Springfield just before 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday when she was forced into the back of a blue Honda by a man later identified as Miguel Rodriguez, according to local and state police.

A bystander, Julius Kenney, told NBC Boston that he and his wife were at home when he heard a girl yelling for help.

"I heard the girl screaming and [a man] throwing her in the back, and I did get a good look at the car," he said. "My wife saw most of it."

The kidnapping sparked an Amber Alert for the girl. The alert was canceled roughly six hours later after authorities found Rodriguez's car stopped in a work zone area along the Massachusetts Turnpike. Police said a driver called 911 to report seeing a car that matched the description in the Amber Alert.

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The girl was in the car and had no visible signs of injury, the Massachusetts State Police said in a press release. She was taken to a hospital for evaluation.

Rodriguez, 24, of Springfield, was taken into custody on charges of kidnapping, assault by means of a dangerous weapon, reckless behavior, and intimidation of a witness.

The girl's parents thanked authorities and the public for their help in bringing their daughter home safe.

"The outpouring of love and support, near and far, is overwhelming.," they said in a statement. "We are eternally grateful.”

According to an arrest report, the girl told authorities that during the kidnapping Rodriguez pointed a knife at her and threatened to kill her if she screamed.

Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood said at a news conference Wednesday shortly before 8 p.m. that police do not believe Rodriguez knew the victim. She also said there may have been a woman driving the car at the time of the kidnapping.

In an update on Thursday, police said they were not looking for any additional suspects.

Clapprood told reporters Wednesday that stranger abductions involving a child are rare.

"What happened is, I think, every parent's worst nightmare," said Clapprood, who thanked the public for their help in finding the vehicle.

"The biggest factor I think in this was the assistance of the public. The tips coming in were amazing," she said. "Civilians spotted this car and helped us out immensely."