Sofia Juarez: TikTok video opens new lead in unsolved child abduction case

·3-min read
<p>Sofia Juarez (left) was abducted the day before her fifth birthday in 2003. Now police are investigating after a woman interviewed in a TikTok video (right) said she may have been kidnapped</p> (Kennewick police department/ TikTok)

Sofia Juarez (left) was abducted the day before her fifth birthday in 2003. Now police are investigating after a woman interviewed in a TikTok video (right) said she may have been kidnapped

(Kennewick police department/ TikTok)

A viral TikTok video has opened a new lead for Washington State police in a nearly two-decades old unsolved child kidnapping case, authorities have said.

In a recent clip on the video-sharing platform, a man can be seen interviewing a woman in Culiacán, Sinaloa, in northwest Mexico who says in Spanish she is 22-years-old and may have been kidnapped, NBC News reported.

In the under a minute-long clip, the woman reportedly puts out a plea to her family to come and get her, saying she does not know where she is from.

Social media users pointed out to police that the woman in the footage matched an approximate age and likeness in the case of Sofia Juarez.

Sofia, from Kennewick, Washington was abducted the day before her fifth birthday in 2003, and police have continued the search for the girl, who would now be 23-years-old.

Police have confirmed that following tip-offs they are investigating the TikTok video in relation to Sofia’s disappearance and thanked members of the public for raising it to their attention.

“Investigation is being conducted into that,” they said of the clip in a statement. “Thank you to those who sent information on that video to us. It is appreciated.”

In another update, police said over 75 people have called or left tips on the Sofia website over the past month. “We continue to investigate the TikTok video,” Kennewick police said.

Lieutenant Aaron Clem, a spokesperson with the department, told NBC News that they hope to identify the woman and have her give a voluntary DNA sample.

Separately, police said “a highly credible witness was identified” in the investigation and that the “witness observed a female matching Sofia’s description” before she was “led away as she cried”.

Police said a light blue or silver or grey late 1970s to early 1980s “work-type” van with no side windows was observed stopped on a nearby side street. “Police now have a high degree of interest in this van,” they said.

They urged anyone who may have any information regarding such a vehicle on 4 February 2003 around the time of Sofia’s disappearance between 8.00pm and 9.15pm to contact the authorities.

Kennewick Police Special Investigator Al Wehner told CNN that investigators have been in contact with the man who filmed the TikTok video and that he has been helping them attempt to locate the woman.

"There’s some very obvious similarities," Mr Wehner said of the video and the missing girl. Mr Clem told NBC News that “there is enough there that we need to do our due diligence.”

The “sad and tragic disappearance” of the girl rocked the entire Tri-City community in Washington state, officials say on a page regarding her disappearance.

“Not knowing what happened to Sofia continues to haunt us all,” the page reads. “Our community’s heart continues to ache for Sofia. She will never be forgotten.”

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