SPRINGFIELD (CBS) – A girl who was abducted while walking home from school in Springfield on Wednesday afternoon has been found safe and a man has been arrested.
State Police said 11-year-old Charlotte Moccia was last seen being forced into a car at Princeton and Amherst Streets at about 1:30 p.m. An Amber Alert was issued at about 5:20 p.m.
The vehicle, a Honda Civic, was stopped on the Mass Pike about two hours later. State Police said Charlotte was “safe and sound” and had no apparent injuries.
“Troopers flooded the area after a motorist called 911 to report seeing the car,” State Police said. “The car was stopped in a work zone and Charlotte was recovered.”
The suspect has been identified as 24-year-old Miguel Rodriguez, who lives in Springfield. Police are investigating if a second suspect was involved.
Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood called it “every parent’s worst nightmare” and said the suspect did not know Charlotte.
“I’ve been doing this for a while and these situations are very few and far between, where you actually have a stranger abduction of a small child and that’s exactly what we had this afternoon,” Clapprood said.
Charlotte was grabbed when she was returning home from Hampden Charter School. “She was screaming, got in definitely unwillingly and they left the area,” Clapprood said.
State Police said they received several calls at about 7:15 p.m. from motorists who spotted the car on the Mass Pike eastbound in Brimfield. Troopers working a detail were able to slow traffic down to a crawl and then arrested Rodriguez at gunpoint.
Troopers found the victim in the backseat of the car. Close to Rodriguez in the front seat was a knife.
“She’s an amazing little girl,” said State Police Lt. Bob Ackerman, who spoke with Charlotte. “I can’t believe how she kept it all together just speaking with us, it’s amazing. I can’t believe how strong she was dealing with this.”
Police released surveillance video from Tuesday, a day before the abduction, showing Charlotte walking along the road and the possible suspect’s car following behind.
Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said the incident was agonizing and he hopes, “that swift justice comes” to the suspect.
Before an Amber Alert is issued by State Police, certain qualifications have to be met. Clapprood said the case was being worked on long before the actual Amber Alert issued.