Detectives hope the release of composite sketches will generate leads in the search for someone reported to have been punched in the face by a man who dragged her by the hair up a hillside in El Sereno.
More than 250 searchers, including horse-mounted police officers, scoured an area of more than 450 acres around 4900 Klamath St. Monday night and again Tuesday. The calls reporting the attack started coming at 7:52 p.m. Monday, said Officer Bruce Borihanh, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman.
On Tuesday morning, Lt. Andy Newman said the LAPD was “taking the reports very seriously.” Police said four independent eyewitnesses gave very similar and credible accounts of the attack and possible kidnapping.
“…It appears that the young lady was being (dragged) up the hill and possibly being struck in the face, being punched in the face, so, you know, it looks like we have a combination of a kidnapping-assault sort of a situation,” said Lt. Antonio Zamora of the LAPD’s Hollenbeck Station.
Zamora spoke at a news conference Tuesday night, when police released composite sketches of the victim and suspect.
Cmdr. Andy Smith, an LAPD spokesman, said the presumed victim was thought to be a Latina between 13 and 16 or a small woman. The assailant is described as a slender Hispanic man of between 18 and 20 who is around six feet tall and 150 pounds.
Investigators hope the victim, who was said to have been kicking and screaming as she was being dragged up a hill, survived the attack and that the release of the composite sketches will churn up new leads.
“So that is our hope – that she’s still alive somewhere and hopefully, either maybe she’s in a position where she could call us; if not, hopefully somebody’s in a position to recognize who these people are and give us a call,” Zamora said. Police said the victim could have visible bruises or other injuries from the beating.
Borihanh said search crews found some leggings and tennis shoes near the site of the reported abduction, but no reports of anyone missing who matched the supposed victim’s description have been received.
A command post for the search was set up near the intersection of Klamath Street and Eastern Avenue. Police closed off the entrance to Ascot Park, part of the search area, bounded by Eastern Avenue and conducted a grid search of the area described earlier in the day by Lt. Andy Newman as “very rugged with several canyons.”
After going over most of the area surrounding the El Sereno Recreation Center, “we have located some physical evidence that supports the abduction,” police Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday afternoon, but “we have seen no evidence of the female who was kidnapped.”
“So that is good news. The last thing we want to do is find remains in this remote location,” Beck said.
Beck said police responded in force to the reported abduction – with help from sheriff’s deputies, canine and firefighters and employees from other agencies.
“This case has been actively worked by over 250 personnel from agencies all over the Southern California area,” he said.
Describing his approach, the chief said that “I’m not in the hope-for-the-best business; I’m in the plan-for-the-worst business. You have to go look. If anybody can imagine, if this was your daughter, if this was your wife, if this was your friend, you would want this kind of effort to ensure their safety.”
Beck said he hopes that what the witnesses observed was a dispute that has been resolved in some way” since Monday night.
Anyone with information about the case was urged to call police at 1-877-LAPD-24-7.