LONG BEACH, Calif. (TCD) -- A 61-year-old man was arrested several hundreds of miles from his home in Texas for allegedly kidnapping a teenage girl and assaulting her during a drive to California.
According to the Long Beach Police Department, on July 9 at 10:19 a.m., officers were called to a parking lot near the 100 block of East 10th Street for an "unknown trouble call." When they arrived, they found a 13-year-old "who was visibly emotional and distressed.="
Good Samaritans reportedly saw the girl in a parked car holding up a sign that read "help me." The witnesses contacted 911 immediately after seeing her note.
Police took an adult male into custody and learned he allegedly kidnapped the girl July 6 in San Antonio near a bus stop. He reportedly held up a gun and told her to get in his car.
Detectives from the Sexual Assault Response Team determined the victim had been sexually assaulted during the trip, and other investigators discovered a replica gun that looked like a semi-automatic pistol.
The suspect, Steven Robert Sablan, now faces federal charges for kidnapping and transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
Sablan reportedly asked the teen her age, and she told him she was 13 years old but had a friend in Australia. He allegedly offered to take the girl on a cruise to visit her friend, but she "had to do something for him first."
He reportedly sexually assaulted her three times during the drive from Texas to California.
On July 9, Sablan stopped at a laundromat in Long Beach, and the girl wrote the "help me" note while he went inside. When police got to the scene, they found Sablan standing outside the car, and the girl mouthed "help."
While searching his vehicle, police reportedly found the written sign, handcuffs, and a BB gun.
Long Beach Police confirmed the victim was a runaway out of San Antonio.
If convicted, Sablan could face up to life in prison.