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Police Believe 13-Year-Old California Girl Who Disappeared From Home Was Murdered
Armando Cruz, 24, has been charged with murder and sexual assault in connection with the disappearance of Patricia Alatorre in Bakersfield, California.
A suspect has been arrested in the disappearance and presumed death of a 13-year-old California girl who vanished last week.
Armando Cruz, 24, is now facing 18 charges, including murder and sexual assault, connected to the disappearance of Patricia Alatorre, according to local station KERO-TV.
Alatorre was last seen July 1 around 11:30 p.m.
Bakersfield Police initially believed that Alatorre may have been a runaway until surveillance footage was uncovered that showed an older model white truck in the area where she was last spotted, local station KBAK reports.
Authorities believe Alatorre got into the truck and then disappeared.
Sgt. Robert Pair, the public information officer for the Bakersfield Police, told Oxygen.com that investigators were able to link Cruz to the white truck captured in the surveillance footage. Law enforcement authorities later seized the vehicle.
Cruz was questioned by police Sunday and arrested following the interview.
“Cruz made statements that are consistent with establishing probable cause for his arrest for the kidnapping and murder,” Pair said.
Investigators are operating under the assumption that Alatorre is dead “based upon facts of the case,” Pair said. He declined to provide any further details about what facts may have led investigators to that conclusion.
Pair said the investigation is “still very much open and active” and “any relationship that may have existed” between the Alatorre and Cruz is now being explored.
Evidence found at Alatorre’s home suggests she may have left the house that night on her own volition, authorities said.
“For example, she placed clothing under the sheets of her bed in an apparent attempt to make it appear that she was still in it and locked her bedroom door,” Pair said.
Investigators are still trying to determine what her motivation was for leaving that night and whether it she departed under duress, Pair said.
Cruz has been booked into the Kern County Jail, according to a statement from police.
Investigators are asking that anyone with information about Cruz’s recent visits to the Bakersfield area to contact police.