A New York City teenager who was dragged into a car by four masked men in front of her terrified mother on a Bronx street Monday night has admitted to investigators that the whole thing was staged, a senior law enforcement official told The Daily Beast.
Karol Sanchez, 16, was the subject of an Amber Alert after what appeared to be a brazen abduction sparked panic on Monday, and by Tuesday afternoon much of the city breathed a sigh of relief as police announced she had been found “safe and unharmed.”
But investigators soon began to question the teenager's version of events, the law enforcement source said, noticing that despite her saying she had been walking for hours in the pouring rain after her captors released her, she was completely dry. Call records also showed she had been in contact with an inmate at Rikers who was released just a few days before her apparent kidnapping, according to the official.
In the course of questioning, she admitted that the incident was staged and she had been coordinating with the former inmate, who she admitted was one of the the alleged kidnappers, in the moments leading up to the incident, the official said.
Prosecutors from the Bronx D.A.'s office do not intend to file charges against Sanchez at this time, though investigators do want to speak with the man she identified as helping her to carry out the staged kidnapping, according to the official.
Police have not announced a motive for why Sanchez would allegedly stage her kidnapping. However, investigators were earlier said to be looking into the possibility that Sanchez’s mother wanted to take her back to her native Honduras but the teen did not want to go, the official told The Daily Beast.
In a grainy black-and-white surveillance video released by authorities on Tuesday, two men can be seen jumping out of a beige sedan that stopped where Sanchez had been walking with her mother on Eagle Avenue near East 156th Street at around 11:20 p.m. They then could be seen grabbing Sanchez and dragging her into the vehicle before speeding away. The 36-year-old mother was allegedly knocked down by the duo as she tried to hold onto her daughter’s dark blue jacket.
The teenager was found in the Bronx Tuesday afternoon in the same spot where she had purportedly been kidnapped about a mile east of Yankee Stadium, according to ABC7.
“She was trembling while she was walking. She just looked really scared,” Akash Singh, a construction worker who witnessed her return, told the New York Post. “She put her hands on her and knees and she started talking to the cops. They jumped out of the car and put her in,” he said.
Sanchez told investigators she had spent the time she was missing “hanging out” and eating food with her three would-be kidnappers until news reports about her disappearance made them fear the incident was getting too much attention, according to the senior law enforcement official.
Her apparent abduction prompted a massive state-wide response, with an Amber Alert featuring her description issued around 10 a.m. Tuesday morning.
“To Karol Sanchez’s family and loved ones, know that the NYPD will not rest until she’s found—and her kidnappers are brought to justice,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted.