US girl rescued from kidnapper in California after holding up 'help me' sign

US girl rescued from kidnapper in California after holding up 'help me' sign

Robert Sablan charged with kidnapping and sexual assault, faces life in prison

By Darren Lyn

HOUSTON, United States (AA) - A Texas girl helped save herself from a kidnapper after holding up a "help me" sign to bystanders who then called 9-1-1.

The federal indictment released Thursday said the 13-year-old girl was allegedly kidnapped at gunpoint from a bus stop in San Antonio, Texas on July 6 by 61-year-old Steven Robert Sablan.

Investigators said the victim was walking down the street when Sablan approached her in his car and allegedly raised a black handgun to his side and told her to get in the car, saying "If you don't get in the car with me, I'm going to hurt you."

Court documents stated the girl complied with Sablan's demands, fearing for her life. Sablan then drove her to California, sexually assaulting her multiple times before he was arrested in Long Beach several days later.

On the morning of July 9, authorities said that Sablan parked his car at a laundromat in Long Beach to do some laundry. During that time, they say the teenager wrote the words "Help me!" on a piece of paper to try and get someone's attention.

"A witness telephoned law enforcement, who upon arrival saw Sablan standing outside the vehicle and saw the victim -- who mouthed the word 'Help' -- inside the car," according to court documents released by the US Attorney's Office of the Central District of California.

When police searched Sablan's vehicle, they found a black BB gun, a "Help me" sign and a pair of handcuffs. They then determined that the victim was a reported runaway and missing person from Texas.

Sablan was arrested and charged with one count of kidnapping and one count of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

If convicted of both charges, Sablan faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

His arraignment is scheduled for July 31.

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