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Search fails to find girl seen kidnapped ‘kicking and screaming’

More than 250 rescue workers and volunteers trekked through brush and up steep terrain in 80-degree heat.

But nearly 24 hours after Los Angeles police received calls of a teenage girl being dragged -- kicking and screaming -- into the woods, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck had few updates.

Other than a few articles of clothing recovered in the first few hours of the search, rescue workers have found no sign of the girl believed to have been abducted.

"While we have located some physical evidence that supports the abduction, we have not found any evidence that the young lady is still in the park," Beck said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference.

By 3:30 p.m., rescuers had combed through 90% of the El Sereno Recreation Center--covering more than 455 acres.

Beck said he expected the final 10% of the park to be searched by 4:30 p.m. and, if no additional evidence was found, the search would be called off.

Further investigation would then be headed up by LAPD detectives.

Two separate witnesses phoned police on Monday night to report what seemed to be an abduction and assault.

They reported a girl, between the ages of 13 and 15, being dragged into the brush that surrounds the park by a man who may have been between the ages of 18 and 21.

Those reports sparked a large-scale rescue effort despite the fact that no young girl matching that description had been reported missing in the area.

"I'm not in the 'hope for the best' business," Beck said. "I'm in the 'plan for the worst' business."

The recreation center's baseball field became a parking lot for dozens of police cruisers, fire trucks and other rescue vehicles.

Mounted officers scaled the park's hilly terrain while canine units looked for any sign of the girl.

The Los Angeles Fire Department and L.A. County Sheriff's Department helped coordinate the massive effort, said fire Chief Bob Franco.

Search and rescue teams from Malibu, Sierra Madre and San Dimas also joined the search, which lasted much of Monday night and resumed at daylight Tuesday.

"Our guiding principle in all of this is thinking: What would you want us to do if that were your sister, or your daughter?" said LAPD Lt. Andy Smith. "When we leave here, it will be because we're sure there's no one out there."

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-- Wesley Lowery in El Sereno

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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