Abducted Colorado girl, 9, escapes captor by calling police

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 21, 2012 6:53 PM

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) - A 9-year-old Colorado girl abducted while walking home from school on Thursday managed to escape her kidnapper after a harrowing 18-hour ordeal by calling police from a convenience store, police said on Saturday.

Calysta Cordova, who police were hailing as a hero, broke free from her captor at a Colorado Springs convenience store on Friday and called 911, said Barbara Miller, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Springs police.

"She is an amazing young girl," Miller said of the 4-foot, 10-inch girl. "She saw a window of opportunity, seized it and became a hero by rescuing herself."

Police arrested Jose Garcia, 29, a short time after the girl notified authorities, Miller said.

Cordova was abducted while walking home from her school in Pueblo, Colorado, on Thursday afternoon, triggering an Amber Alert, police said.

A vehicle driven by Garcia broke down in Colorado Springs on Friday morning, and a passing motorist gave Garcia and Cordova a ride to the convenience store, where the girl ran inside, asked the clerk to use the telephone, and called 911.

Garcia fled on foot when he saw the girl on the phone, and was arrested at a bus station a short time later, police said.

Garcia was being held on a $250,000 bond on suspicion of second-degree kidnapping, sexual assault and a probation violation, Sergeant Brian Ziolkowski of the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office said.

A Pueblo police captain declined to say if the sexual assault charge was related to the Cordova case. Police gave no information on Cordova's condition, and said her family was declining media interviews to protect their daughter.

(Reporting By Keith Coffman; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)