BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The Bakersfield Police Department now believes that missing 13-year-old Patricia Alatorre is dead and has arrested a suspect in the case. 23ABC's Bayan Wang followed the developments in the case.
The BPD said this is one of the worst missing children cases they've worked in recent years. For perspective, in 2018 and 2019, the department worked more than 240 missing children cases. All victims in both those years were located.
On Wednesday night, police say Alatorre was kidnapped from her neighborhood and they say she won't be coming back home.
"Patricia Alatorre is being treated as deceased at this time," said Sgt. Robert Pair of the Bakersfield Police Department. "It's a horrific tragedy not just for their family, which I can't even put myself in their shoes, but also for the community of Bakersfield."
The community near Hosking Avenue and Wible Road are still coming to terms with the tragic news.
Alatorre went missing from her neighborhood on Crescent Ridge street shortly before midnight Wednesday night. She is now believed to have been murdered, according to the BPD. The development comes after police arrested 24-year-old Inglewood resident Armando Cruz in Los Angeles County on Sunday night.
According to police at the time Alatorre went missing Cruz's white pick-up truck was caught on home surveillance footage in her neighborhood.
"He's being charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, and some other charges," said Pair.
Those other charges include contacting a minor to commit sexual assault, rape, and lewd acts with a child under 14. Police are still investigating if Alatorre and Cruz knew each other and how they came into contact.
"It hits hard happening right here close to home," said Ray Turner, who lives a few houses down from Alatorre. He said the street is filled with children and that neighbors have been on edge. "Now we're watching every car that comes by. People walking in the neighborhood."
Other neighbors like Quincy Patton are also on guard.
"We talk about watching the kids. Keeping an eye on them. We all have surveillance around here. We all have to stick together."