Pearl Pinson Update: Police Call Off Search In Sonoma County Days After Suspected Kidnapper Fernando Castro Killed – Amber Alert Still Active

On Wednesday a 15-year-old teenager from Vallejo, California was reported missing after witnesses saw an armed man dragging the screaming, bleeding girl away. An amber Alert was issued for her on Thursday but after days without a trace of her, authorities have now called off the search for Pearl Pinson.

The search for 15-year-old Pearl Pinson had shifted to the Willow Creek area of Sonoma County based on information the Solano County Sherriff’s Office unearthed in their investigation. The area is near the Northern California town of Jenner, just 65 miles from where Pearl Pinson’s abduction at gunpoint near her home in the Bay Area community of Vallejo was witnessed. ABC 7 reported that the Sherriff’s Office released a statement about the search being called off, though the possibility of a rescue still exists.

“Investigators are continuing to follow up on leads in this case and continue to have hope we will find and bring Pearl home.”

Despite the concentration of searchers in the Jenner area the authorities never did reveal what led them to searching that area, but now Sonoma County’s Willow Creek has been ruled out as a viable option for locating the Amber Alert victim. The desperate search for Pinson became a little more complicated the very same day that the Amber Alert was issued when the suspect was shot and killed by police officers.

The decision that the search be called off is surprising as the kidnapping only occurred four days ago and no other areas to search have been announced. Just yesterday CBS News reported that the spokeswoman for the Solano County Sheriff’s office, Christine Castillo, was intent on ending the Amber Alert by bringing the missing teenager home. They feared she was in grave danger and divers, canine units and search-and-rescue teams were brought out to scour along the river at the Sonoma Coast in Sonoma County.

“Our number one priority is bringing Pearl home safely to her family, and we do believe that is possible… Search teams have conducted a thorough search of the area and we’ve met our goals, we’re confident that Pearl is not here.”

A witness to the abduction said that a Hispanic man, later identified as Fernando Castro, was seen dragging the white female girl on the pedestrian over-crossing above the I-780. The Amber Alert was issued as she was screaming for help the entire time the witness saw her and Castro reportedly had a gun in his hand. Though reports of gunshots were also made authorities were never able to say definitely whether or not the 15-year-old girl had been shot by her abductor. Police say that Pearl Pinson and her 19-year-old abductee knew each other, though family members have said they are unaware of the connection.

The Amber Alert described Pinson as a petite 15-year-old – 5 feet 3 inches tall- with blue eyes, brown hair which has partly been dyed green. Pearl weighs about 130 lbs.

Local California officers spotted Fernando Castro on Thursday as he and his vehicle, a 1996 gold Saturn, were spotted by someone who called in a tip about the Amber Alert suspect to the police. Authorities were able to review surveillance cameras in the area of the San Rafael Bridge in Marin County until they spotted Castro driving south on highway 101 in California. An ensuing high speed chase ended when Castro crashed his vehicle and then engaged in a shootout with the police. He then attempted to steal another vehicle and flee that scene but was killed before he could leave. No clues as to her whereabouts was learned from that deadly encounter.

The Amber Alert for Pearl Pinson will remain active, but it is unclear if the investigators intend to begin searching elsewhere now that they have called off the search in Sonoma County.

[Image via Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office/Facebook]