An Irish American family in California is breathing a sigh of relief after 10 year old Nicole Ryan was located within hours of her unexplained disappearance on Wednesday morning.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Nicole Ryan was discovered missing when her mother checked in on her bedroom around 3:00am on Wednesday morning. Just two hours prior Nicole was in her room.
Her parents immediately notified authorities who began to search for the distinctively red-haired child.
Less than 12 hours later, however, Nicole Ryan was discovered at a strip mall just a few miles from her home. She was dropped off there by an unidentified man, and was wearing a different outfit from the one she was last seen in. Ryan didn’t have shoes on, appeared to have lacerations to her face and looked to be in ‘shock.’
A woman at the strip mall in Woodland Hills, CA recognized Ryan and called the police.
Ryan was taken to a nearby hospital where she is reportedly in decent health and was walking and talking. Police have said they are waiting to interview her further as to not traumatize her.
ABC News in Los Angeles reports that the LAPD said Ryan was taken against her will by two men. It's believed the two men may have entered her house through the back. A side gate that had been secured by the parents in the evening was found open, police said.
The girl was taken to a nearby storage facility, then it was believed that she was taken to an abandoned rental property on the 8000 block of Hatillo Avenue, just a street away from the girl's home. However, it was later determined that she had not been taken to the rental property. Police said they believe there was another location where she was held.
The girl was dropped off at Kaiser Hospital and then walked to a nearby Starbucks where she was recognized by a citizen about 2:45 p.m. The citizen flagged down a passing LAPD sergeant.
LAPD Commander Andy Smith said there was no sign of forced entry at the Ryan home, but the back door of the home was unlocked and a side gate was open.
"Obviously, this is of concern," Smith said. "A child disappeared from their bed in the middle of the night."
Police have said that they plan to review local surveillance cameras in hopes of piecing together just how Nicole Ryan was abducted from her home.