Abducted Florida girl found in Texas©Associated Press
September 2, 2002
PANAMA CITY BEACH -- Investigators were headed to Texas on Sunday to pick up a 16-year-old girl snatched from her home by a man who has evaded authorities in three states, officials said.
The girl was in the custody of police in Orange, Texas, on Sunday, a day after she was abducted from this North Florida town about 485 miles away, authorities said.
Ernie Paul Dugas, 30, is charged with kidnapping. Authorities in Florida, Texas and Louisiana were searching for Dugas, who once lived in Rayne, La., said investigator David Baldwin of the Bay County Sheriff's Office.
Baldwin said he and a deputy were driving to Texas to pick up the girl and bring her home. Baldwin said the girl was not injured in the 14-hour ordeal, but said "there has been some sexual battery."
"She's been through a heck of an ordeal and we're going to keep her safe," Baldwin said Sunday in an interview on his cellular phone.
The Associated Press is withholding the girl's name because of the alleged sexual battery.
The teen was abducted Saturday morning when she answered the door at her home. The stranger grabbed the girl and forced her into his car, police said.
He allowed her to use his cellular phone while they were at a rest stop, shortly after they had crossed the border from Louisiana into Texas, police said.
The girl called a relative in Florida, who contacted the authorities. Police in Orange found the girl alone at the rest stop, about 14 hours after she was abducted, police said.
The state issued an "Amber Alert" for the girl. The system, named for a 9-year-old Texas girl who was abducted and murdered in 1996, uses radio and television emergency airwaves across the state to broadcast notices of child abductions.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111
From the Times state desk
From the state wire