Last Wednesday morning, a relatively quiet California community was shocked when a 15-year-old girl went missing. Pearl Pinson was last seen being dragged along a pedestrian overpass above the I-780. According to an eyewitness, the teen was bloody and screaming for help as she was dragged from the scene. Several other witnesses also reported gunshots in the area. At the time, no one knew who she was, but it didn’t take long to realize Pearl hadn’t made it to school, and on Thursday, an Amber Alert was issued for the California teenager.
The Amber Alert included a description of the petite 15-year-old Pinson, letting those on the lookout know that she is 5 feet 3 inches tall, with blue eyes, brown hair dyed partially green, and that she weighs about 130 lbs. The California Amber Alert also described her alleged abductor, 19-year-old Fernando Castro, as well as his vehicle, a 1996 gold Saturn.
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) May 28, 2016
On Thursday, local California police investigating the Amber Alert and Pearl Pinson’s suspected abduction caught a break. They received a tip Thursday afternoon around 3 p.m. local time that the suspect’s car had been spotted. It was caught on surveillance cameras in the area of the San Rafael Bridge in Marin County, reports KCRA. Thanks to the California Amber Alert, officials were able to spot Castro driving south on highway 101 in California.
Ultimately, police engaged in a high-speed chase that didn’t end until the Amber Alert suspect crashed his vehicle in front of a local mobile home. The suspect then barricaded himself in someone’s home (the resident was able to escape and get to safety), but ultimately came out of the house firing at officers. He then managed to get into a grey Toyota pickup that had been parked at the residence in an attempt to flee the scene. When he tried to drive away, however, he began to exchange gunfire with California officers; during the shootout, the Amber Alert suspect was fatally shot.
— Maria Medina (@mariaCBS5) May 27, 2016
Fortunately, no officers or civilians were hurt during the incident, report local California sheriff’s officers.
Unfortunately, the victim in the California Amber Alert remains missing. Pearl Pinson has not been seen or heard from since she was reportedly dragged from the pedestrian overpass bloody and screaming on Wednesday morning. Police have not confirmed whether or not they believe she was shot in the abduction, but they do know she’s endangered, which is why the Amber Alert was issued.
The police also say that Pearl’s family members were unaware of a connection between Pearl and the deceased Amber Alert suspect but that investigators believe that the pair knew each other before the abduction.
“The number one priority at this stage of the investigation is locating the kidnapping victim.”
At this time, police are collecting evidence from the Amber Alert suspect’s car. They have also expanded their search area for the California Amber Alert abductee and are now focusing on Sonoma County. According to California law enforcement, crews are now searching for Pearl Pinson in Jenner, a rural area along the Russian River.
Investigators changed their search area based upon new information they’ve uncovered over the course of their investigation.
“We do believe she may be here, or there may be evidence to lead us to believe she was here at one point.”
The search area includes both the river and the surrounding area, which is reportedly mountainous and covered in thick brush. Crews are using ATV’s, dogs, and boats, and have access to search helicopters as well, should they need them as they continue their desperate search for the California Amber Alert victim.
— Laura Anthony (@LauraAnthony7) May 28, 2016
While the search for Pearl was suspended on Friday evening, California officials are planning to resume their efforts to find the missing teen on Saturday morning. At this point, investigators are still holding out hope that they will find the 15-year-old alive, saying that after only two and a half days, this is still very much a search and rescue case.
The victim’s family have mixed feelings about the death of the suspect in the California Amber Alert, especially since Pearl is still missing.
“It is heartbreaking because his little information could have helped us to find out where she was or anything about her.”
Anyone with any information about the missing California teen’s whereabouts, or any information pertaining to the Amber Alert, is asked to call either 911 or the Solano County Sheriff’s Office at 707-784-1963.
[Photo by Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office]