A Romanian teenager allegedly phoned police three times to report her own kidnapping, but after authorities waited nearly a day to respond, the 15-year-old is now presumed dead — and some locals believe the delayed police response led to her death.
The teenager, only identified as "Alexandra," was abducted last week while hitchhiking in southern Romania, according to The Guardian. Police believe she was taken and held captive by a motorist who gave her a ride. In her conversations with police operators, she offered information as to where she was being held. Police told the media one of the calls was cut off after the teenager shouted, “He’s coming, he’s coming.”
Gheorghe Dincă, a 66-year-old mechanic, has since been arrested on suspicion of rape and juvenile trafficking.
The case has triggered a national uproar, and may now have far-reaching political implications.
On Saturday, Viorica Dăncilă, the country’s prime minister, announced Romania may hold a referendum on harsher punishments for serious crimes like pedophilia, rape and muder. Romania’s highest-ranking police officer, Ioan Buda, has also been fired.
“I called for the sacking of the police chief … because drastic measures are required,” said Nicolae Moga, the country’s interior minister, according to The Guardian.
I'm "deeply saddened by the tragedy” and “revolted by the fact that, due to some malfunctions, the responsible authorities have failed to save a teenage girl who has lost her life under dramatic conditions,” Romania’s president, Klaus Iohannis, said in a prepared statement.
The victim’s family has also accused the police of negligence.
“My niece, Alexandra, may have been killed while police and prosecutors ‘guarded’ the criminal. A few heads have fallen, but not enough!” a Facebook post by the victim’s uncle read, The Guardian reported.
Hundreds of people have since gathered at the suspect’s house to protest the handling of the investigation, according to The New York Times.
Critics allege police attempted to obtain a search warrant, which ultimately delayed their investigation — but is not required in the cases of emergency.
Authorities reportedly searched three buildings before locating the correct address where the teenager was being held — 12 hours after the emergency calls. Human remains were discovered alongside the teenager’s jewelry, the BBC reported .
Meanwhile, Dincă’s attorney, Alexandru Bogdan, has maintained his client's innocence.
There’s "evidence to be determined by expertise, like what kind of bones they are,” said Bogdan, in a statement obtained by The Guardian. “It's premature to discuss about guilt based on these clues.”
He also acknowledged that Dincă knew the victim, and that the teenager’s emergency calls originated from his client’s cell phone.
Authorities are still working to identify the remains.
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