Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Police: Missing Girl Was Assaulted ; Some Angry TPD Didn't Issue Amber Alert before She Was Found

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Police: Missing Girl Was Assaulted ; Some Angry TPD Didn't Issue Amber Alert before She Was Found

Article excerpt

A young Topeka girl who went missing for nearly six hours Saturday morning was found more than 2 miles away -- safe but injured.

The girl's family members and friends of the family expressed frustration and disappointment about the Topeka Police Department's handling of the matter, especially not issuing an Amber Alert. But police said they didn't think the alert was needed at the time.

Samara Herrera, 8, was reported missing just before 8 a.m. Saturday from her home in the 2100 block of S.E. 34th Terrace. She was found about 1 p.m. more than 2 miles northwest, in the 2500 block of S.E. Ohio.

The Topeka Capital-Journal spoke to residents in the area who found Samara walking north along S.E. Ohio. They said the girl appeared to have injuries.

When asked whether the girl was OK, an officer at the scene replied simply, "She's alive," and the police weren't ruling anything out.

Topeka police Maj. Jerry Stanley said preliminary investigation shows the girl was assaulted.

"She has been taken to a local hospital to determine the extent of the injuries," he said. "As the investigation continues, we'll determine if there are any suspects the public can help us locate."

Stanley said many Topeka Police Department resources were being used on the investigation.

"This case is our priority this weekend," he said.

About 8 p.m., Capt. Brian Desch issued a statement saying police were guarding two locations connected with the investigation: one in the 2600 block of S.E. Ohio, and the other in the 2100 block of S.E. Pioneer Way.

"Detectives have been talking to several people throughout the day and we have more to speak with tonight," Desch said.

In the 2100 block of S.E. 34th Terrace, the air was rife with frustration, anxiety and worry, as more than 50 members of the community responded to a call to assist in the search. Many were angry the police department didn't issue an Amber Alert after she was determined to be missing -- with the backdoor open and her shoes right where she left them.

"It's B.S.," said Lela Perez, a family friend who took over the search operations. …

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