PHOENIX – A 5-year-old girl abducted on Christmas Day by a man outside her Phoenix home was rescued just hours later during a dramatic police chase on city streets.
The girl was located around 9 p.m. when a patrol officer just happened to spot the truck of the man accused of kidnapping her, Police Sgt. Andy Hill said.
"We have had our Christmas miracle," Hill said. "She is alive and well."
On Saturday morning, Hill identified the suspect as 45-year-old Larry Jon Ladwig.
He said Ladwig is also accused of molesting the girl during the abduction. Because of that, ABC15.com has decided to withhold the young victim's name from all future stories.
Ladwig has been booked into jail for kidnapping, sexual molestation of a child, aggravated assault on a police officer and felony flight.
Hill credited a "very alert" policeman with taking quick action after spotting what appeared to be the suspect's vehicle driving on a Phoenix road.
"I was fairly confident that it was the truck, " said Officer Mike Burns. "Then when he turned abruptly and started to speed up, I was sure that was the guy."
Officers put spike strips across the road several blocks away that punctured the suspect's tires and caused him to lose control and crash.
"There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to chase him until we caught him," said Burns. "If he disappeared then we may not have gotten her back."
The man took off through the neighborhood on foot but was chased down by officers and arrested.
Police are now investigating to see if there are any other victims out there. They say he was stalking the apartment complex and was possibly spotted there earlier in the week too.
Police received the call that the victim had been taken at about 2:15 p.m. Friday.
An Amber Alert was issued, and authorities began combing the area on foot, by car and with helicopters.
Hill said the 5-year-old and two young family members were playing at an apartment complex near 19th Avenue and Cactus when the kidnapping happened.
Donna Reed, who lives in the complex, said she called 911 to report the abduction after a young girl came to her for help.
"We were having Christmas dinner and someone was banging on the door, so I opened the door because I could tell it was a lower knock, and it was a little girl," said Reed. "She says, 'Help me, help me, someone's taken [the girl].' And then I called 911."
The girls were staying with an aunt at the apartment complex who reportedly has legal custody of the children. The parents live separately out of state.
Hill said the male suspect parked his truck in the parking lot next to where the girls were playing, got out with a camera, and forcibly took a photo of the girl's 7-year-old relative after pulling down her pants.
He then forcibly took the victim and started to drive off, according to Hill.
At some point, the suspect also apparently molested the victim.
Police spent hours combing the apartment complex for clues, knocking on doors and interviewing neighbors.
They also searched databases of sex offenders who live in the area, and conducted forensic interviews with witnesses. A nation-wide Amber Alert was issued.
Neighbors and friends were shocked to hear that the victim was snatched from her own home on Christmas day.
“We have had our Christmas miracle,” said Hill. He added that the chances of finding a child abducted by a stranger after seven hours was "about one in 100."
Tags: Kidnapped, 5, Year, Old, Rescued, By, Phoenix, Police, , ,
Location: Phoenix, Arizona, United States (load item map)
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