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Amber Bonal credited her daughter’s quick thinking—and crime scene knowledge from watching “Law and Order: SVU”—for being able to escape her would-be kidnapper and leave behind the evidence needed to catch her attacker.
Bonal’s 11-year-old daughter Alyssa Bonal was making her own homemade blue slime while waiting for the school bus Tuesday morning when a man, wielding a knife, grabbed her and tried to carry her toward his waiting car.
But Alyssa managed to fight off her attacker and trip him, allowing her to break free and run away in a harrowing escape captured on video.
Escambia County Sheriff Chip W. Simmons said at a press conference Tuesday night that Alyssa had also managed to leave behind some unique evidence of her own: the blue slime. Traces of the substance were still on her alleged attacker, 30-year-old Jared Paul Stanga, when he was arrested later that day, according to Simmons and an arrest report obtained by Oxygen.com.
Amber told The Pensacola News Journal her daughter ran back home after the attack and told her she had purposely tried to leave the evidence behind.
“Her first words were, 'Somebody tried to kidnap me. He grabbed me by my throat and he had a knife.' She said she was able to kick and she tripped him and freed herself," Amber told the outlet. "She said, 'Mom, I had to leave some sort of evidence behind, like on Law & Order: SVU.' We've watched probably every episode on Hulu. She's a smart cookie, she thinks on her toes. She got that slime everywhere."
Alyssa’s heroic actions have even captured the attention of “Law & Order: SVU” star Mariska Hargitay, who commended Alyssa in an Instagram post Thursday.
“Alyssa, first and most important, I am so relieved and grateful to know that you are safe. And I am so honored to be part of your incredible story. You are one BRAVE, Strong and Smart young woman,” she wrote.
Hargitay said the show may even need to incorporate Alyssa’s tactics into their own crime-fighting strategies.
“I think the SVU squad might have to add slime to their crimefighting gear! Take good care of yourself and each other,” she said, signing the message with “With all my love, your number one fan, Mariska.”
It wasn’t just the slime that led authorities to their suspect. Authorities were also able to track the white SUV seen in surveillance video footage from the attack to a local convenience store, where investigators said Stanga typed in his phone number to use a store rewards card, according to the report.
They arrested him later that day after noting that Stanga’s vehicle had been freshly painted, authorities said. His attorney, however, has questioned in court whether authorities arrested the right man. He says Alyssa initially described her attacker as a Hispanic male, while Stanga is white.
Amber, 30, told the local newspaper she had been planning to walk her daughter to the bus stop that day but just as they were leaving the house, her 18-month-old daughter Jazzlyn needed a diaper change. She told Alyssa to go ahead to the bus stop and she’d catch up, but the abduction attempt happened before she made it to the busy intersection.
“I hadn’t even finished changing the diaper before she ran back in the house. Her hair was all messed up, she had slime everywhere and I asked her what was going on,” Amber said. “I thought maybe she had been hit by a car, but I never would have thought somebody would have tried to take her."
Alyssa told local station WKRG that she had been making the slime when a man ran up and grabbed her, making her feel “scared” and “anxious.”
“What is he going to do with me?” she said of her thoughts at the time. “Where is he going to…where am I going to be at? What is my family going to think?”
She described seeing the man carrying a knife and trying to drag her away.
“I tried running off, but he grabbed me,” she said. “He took me with his arm and I was able to get him down to the ground and I was able to get away.”
Alyssa ran toward the first open door she could find, approaching her neighbor Douglass Rudolph.
“She comes running around the corner toward me hollering my name and some guy was trying to get her,” Rudolph told the news outlet.
Rudolph watched as she got safely back home and then tried to go after the attacker himself, but his car broke down along the way, the paper reports.
Alyssa lives at home with her mom, younger sister and teenage brother Christopher about 50 yards away from the bus stop.
Her mom told The Pensacola News Journal that she wanted to move to a “better part of town” but had been struggling to find work through her cleaning business in the last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The bus stop used to be at the end of her driveway but was moved about 50 yards away sometime this year after the school district was having difficulties finding drivers.
Amber told local station WEAR-TV she “broke down in tears” after watching the surveillance video of her daughter’s attack.
“Just to actually see what she went through—it felt like slow motion, you know what I mean? It felt like it took so long, even though it was so fast. And to know that she went through that, just this little 11-year-old—my baby—you know?,” she said. “I don’t care how old she is, she’s my baby. To go through that and to make it through, and to fight like that—she’s just something else. She’s a miracle. She is my miracle.”
About two weeks before the abduction attempt, Alyssa was approached on April 29 by a man she told police was the same man who tried to abduct her.
"She told me that a man in a white car pulled up, spoke to her and said 'hello' or 'Hola' or something," Amber recalled. "He proceeded to get out of the car, and then that’s when she ran off to the next bust stop and got on the bus. She went to school, told her teacher and the teacher told the principal."
Amber told the newspaper no one ever called her about the incident.
“Why didn’t anybody call me? My child was almost kidnapped, or had a bad interaction, and nobody called me back,” she said.
The Escambia County School District Superintendent Tim Smith has refuted that claim, however, telling the paper that the principal spoke to Alyssa about the incident and left her mom a voicemail.
In the days following the attempted kidnapping, Amber said the family’s still dealing with the trauma.
Alyssa returned to school on Wednesday because she didn’t want to miss out on state testing, but this time her aunt drove her there.
Amber is now warning other parents to be aware of the dangers in the community and urged others to talk with their children about what to do during an attack—something she had talked about with Alyssa just a few days before Tuesday’s attack.
“If she would have been taken, I could have lost her forever,” she said through tears.
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