Karol Sanchez is the 16-year-old girl who police said appeared to have been kidnapped while walking with her mother in the Bronx on Monday, December 16, 2019. NYPD Crimestoppers released surveillance footage of the kidnapping early Tuesday morning. A reward of $2,500 was offered for information and an Amber Alert was issued.
The NYPD announced around 2:40 p.m. that Sanchez had been found safe and unharmed.
But a few hours later, it came to light that officials may be looking into the possibility that the abduction had been staged by the victim.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. Report: Karol Sanchez Allegedly Confessed to Staging the Incident Because She Was Unhappy
Karol Sanchez may have staged the entire situation. Local CBS station CBS2 reported that according to sources, Sanchez admitted to orchestrating the kidnapping after she was reunited with her family. The NYPD has not publicly confirmed this.
Sanchez’s alleged motive was apparently to send some sort of message to her mother. WABC-TV reported that Sanchez’s mother potentially planned to move the family back to Honduras. But Sanchez apparently did not wish to go.
Heavy reached out to the NYPD Public Information Office for more information. The department did not comment on the new allegation, responding via email, “The investigation is ongoing.”
2. Karol Sanchez Was Dropped Off at a Park Tuesday Near the Site of the Alleged Abduction
Karol Sanchez was reunited with her family Tuesday afternoon. She was reportedly dropped off at a park near the site of the alleged abduction about 12 hours later. WABC-TV reported that the teen walked back to a family member’s apartment building and then met with police.
In a video shared on Twitter by reporter Kemberly Richardson, Sanchez and other family members were seen walking out to a car after presumably meeting with the police. Sanchez looked emotional and on the brink of tears, but physically ok. She and her family members did not respond to questions from local media but one man flashed a thumbs up at the cameras.
3. Security Footage Showed Karol Sanchez Being Dragged Into a Vehicle While Her Mother Desperately Tried to Hang Onto Her
The New York City Police Department says that Karol Sanchez and her mother, 36, were walking in the Melrose neighborhood in the South Bronx around 11:30 p.m. on December 16. They live in Dutchess County, which is located about 75 miles north of New York City. They were reportedly in the Bronx to visit family friends.
In the security video, you can see that both Sanchez and her mom were carrying umbrellas at the time. They were on Eagle Avenue near East 156 Street when a four-door sedan pulled up alongside them. Two men got out of the vehicle and grabbed Karol.
Sanchez’s mother put up a fight as she tried desperately to hold onto her daughter. In the video, you can see her throw her umbrella down and run past one of the suspected kidnappers as Karol is pushed into the vehicle. She appears to break away from one of the men who tried to stop her.
The vehicle pulled forward a few feet, and it’s unclear exactly what happened in the next few seconds due to the bright lights of the car and the grainy nature of the surveillance footage. The car stopped again and Karol’s mother was pushed onto the sidewalk.
She stands up and appears to try to run after the car as the driver headed east on East 156th Street. Pix 11 reported that she did not appear to have been injured and refused medical treatment.
4. Police Are Looking For the Four Adult Men Involved
The NYPD is still working to identify the four men who were in the beige vehicle. The department said the four suspects were all in their 20s.
Investigators initially said that Sanchez did not know the four men. A possible motive was not given while the Amber Alert was in effect.
It’s possible that charges could be filed against the alleged accomplices. It was not immediately clear whether Sanchez could face legal repercussions if it turned out the incident was staged.
5. Karol Sanchez’s Alleged Kidnapping Had Neighbors On Edge
Karol Sanchez’s alleged kidnapping had other families in the neighborhood on edge. Parent Joy Bates told WABC-TV that she takes her daughter to school every day and now worries about something similar happening to them. “Hopefully nothing like that… I might get kidnapped, too.”
Resident Eva Tores told WCBS-TV that she lives up the block from where Sanchez was kidnapped. She has two daughters of her own and says the situation has made her more aware of her surroundings. “I’m walking them to the train, picking them up, constantly having them text me.”