July 15th, 2010
02:25 AM ET

Missing girl found after almost 7 years

A California girl who had been missing for almost seven years was found Wednesday by police in Phoenix, Arizona, authorities said.

Amber Rose Nicklas had just turned a year old when she was abducted in September 2003.

She had been in the care of foster parents in Norwalk, California, when she was snatched by three of her aunts, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County sheriff's Norwalk Station said.

Two of the aunts were caught at the time. The third got away with the child, said sheriff's spokesman Bill Evans.

The girl somehow ended up with a family in Phoenix that had no relation to her biological family, authorities said.

Authorities got a tip that Amber could be at a home in Phoenix and went there with a court order Wednesday afternoon.

When investigators tried to serve the court order, they found that a woman in the home had hidden the child in a shower under a pile of clothes and towels, said Phoenix police Sgt. Trent Crump.

Amber's identity had been changed, including her name and date of birth, police said.

"The child was in good physical condition; however, very frightened about today's events. She had also been withheld from schooling," Crump said.

Amber's real identity was confirmed through footprints, photographs and DNA swabs, police said.

The child, who is now 7, is in state custody in California and prosecutors will file charges, Crump said. - CNN's Nick Valencia and Sonya Hamasaki contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Arizona • California • Crime • Justice
soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. doggsho

    Well, apparently the "aunts" didn't "care" enough to "ensure" the child's "schooling", so a big fat F- to them.

    July 15, 2010 at 3:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Liam

      Flag on the field! Unnecessarily excessive use of quotation marks. 10 yard penalty.

      July 15, 2010 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      @Liam – NICE!

      July 15, 2010 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      You don't need to go to school to get an education.

      July 15, 2010 at 8:16 am | Report abuse |
    • CourtSystemReformNOW

      The aunts may have been protecting the child from physical abuse, and made a choice between home schooling and positioning the kid to be victimized by a corrupt dishonest court system that conducts its affairs like an expensive auction house. So the aunts could not hope to possibly place a winning bid in that cesspool. So, the aunts were MOST LIKELY acting with the child's best interest in mind, unlike the dihonest lawyers and judges that infect the "system".

      You know, there are a lot of laws that are ridiculous, but were purchased in the court "system" auction house. For example, Larry Flynt's "p!rno on street vendor's booths in front of ur kids is HIS freedom of speech." He purchased that unethical Stare Decisis (case precedence law) with his p$rno enrichment. In another situation, "baby killing is legal while adult self-determination (euthanasia) is illegal." So, OUR court system does not serve justice, but serves wealthy litigants and delivers sdesired outcomes ONLY to the highest bidding litigants. That's not a "justice system", that's an economic system – an unethical auction house that too consumes losing bids!!! You want THAT DISHONEST UNETHICAL "SYSTEM" managing the concerns of small children, and families? NO ME. NO WAY JOSE. I'm siding with the aunts. The kid was in good shape. Remember that. Home schooling and being cared for RULES.

      What we really need is more information about WHY the aunts took the kid. From their perspective.

      Vote ethical leader, not dishonest lawyer legal tech at the polls this fall. Send a clear message we've had enough of the dishonest court "system."

      That is my opinion.

      July 15, 2010 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Sharron Smith

      Read between the lines people. The child was probably home schooled to prevent public records of her. Home schooling can be a much better education. Of course the child was put with non relatives. The courts were aware and watching family. I'm sure the Aunts put her with trusted friends. CNN is only giving partial facts to skew the story.

      July 15, 2010 at 8:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Al

      LMAO @ Liam!!!

      July 15, 2010 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Liam Fan

      Too Funny...

      July 15, 2010 at 9:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      The article doesn't say that the child was home schooled. It says her schooling was not provided for. I know people love to feel like a persecuted underdog, but homeschooling is well known, and if the kid were home schooled, they would have reported that. They would have played it up, because there is a lot of negative emotion about home schooling. This kid was not home schooled, she was just not schooled.

      The aunts were not "taking care" of her. The young teen-age aunts kidnapped her and handed her off to someone else, and somehow the child ended up in the care of a stranger far from home. Somehow I don't trust that a 13 year old aunt who takes a one year old from chuck e. cheese and ends up in a state detention camp is a great judge of what is good for the welfare of the child.

      July 15, 2010 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
    • LaRofromNorthAL

      @Cindy – it didn't say she was withheld from school, but from "schooling". Sounds to me like the non-relative who held her didn't do much in the way of parenting/teaching. Poor kid.

      July 15, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Bronze

      Um... did you read the article? It said the child was with a wonam who had no biological realstionship to her. The "Aunts" were not in the picture.

      July 15, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • carlwhart

      As an English teacher, I am shocked, horrified and saddened by all these unnecessary quotation marks.

      July 15, 2010 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • DrFeelGood

      You do if you want to operate on people.

      July 15, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • darwin doll

      Go Paul!

      it is good to see that there are more than religious nutcases on here

      July 15, 2010 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Andrea

      Is anyone concerned about the welfare of this child? The poor little girl is going to be put back into the system and will be forced to live with yet more strangers. Home schooling is the least of my worries for her!

      July 15, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • WorkingWifeAndMother

      @Howie – Homeschooling is not child abuse. There are organizations for homeschoolers, that provide the homeschooled children to get together in a group setting to learn how to interact and to gain social skills. Also, I believe in many areas, homeschooled children can participate in public school classes like P.E. and band, or extracurricular activities, too. If a parent lives in an area that has poor public education, or wants to protect their children from gangs, etc, I think their decision to homeschool may be the best for the child (especially if they don't have the means to move out of the area, which might be the next response to my comment). I know children that have been through public school, private school, and homeschool, and I think it depends on the child's personality, as well as the parents' level of involvement, that determine's the child's ability to interact with the world. Some children thrive on public school, whereas some thrive in a homeschool setting. It's the end result that matters, not the means to get there. If they grow up to be self-confident, intelligent individuals that are capable of functioning in the world and providing for themselves, what difference does it make if they learned from a teacher, a nun, or a parent?

      July 15, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • clkv

      @ReformCourtSystemNow.....No the system is not perfect but in MOST jurisdictions it does have the child's best interest in mind. You're tirade reeks of a scorned woman who feels victimized by all of those evil, no good, corrupt, lawyers and judges. You obviously lost whatever divorce/custody case you were in.

      I know many judges and lawyers who are good at what they do. The reason most lawyers shy away from domestic law in the first place is because of people like you. It is extremely rare in ANY family law case that both parties walk away satisfied with the "system" or their lawyer. Compromises have to be made and angry and scorned wife's and husband's can't accept that.

      Next time, if you want to make a legitimate point about the "system" try not looking so bat **** crazy.

      July 15, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Most jurisdictions absolutely do not have the child's interest in mind. They favor one of the adults – namely the biological mother. Children are placed in abusive situations by judges who were elected to protect the interest of women. In their world view, the children serve the Mother, not the other way around.

      In my local jurisdiction, the judges are elected, and the election process, unfortunately is dominated by radical feminists. Only a few thousands votes decide who will be judge. There is about a 15% turnout for such local elections. As much as I'd like the general public to go out and vote, and care – they don't. The organizations, usually radical feminist organizations, that can turn out the vote, there people get elected.

      I've been in the Court, observing, judges make such comments (in regards to turning a child over to a mentally-ill schizophrenic mother) – let her raise the child for a while, a task in her life, might calm her down.

      Unfortunately, most great lawyers don't want to become family court judges – they are attracted to criminal court. Family court is dominated by people who wanted to be there, usually for one reason – to continue for as long as possible, traditional female privileges.

      They rarely boot the mother out, even when the child had options, like living with the Father, like living with Grandparents – they try to keep the child with the mother, even when the child is going to be abused severely.

      The Mom's just get good at hiding the abuse, and that's what goes for a 'solution' to the problem.

      July 15, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • clkv

      @ Robert...I agree that the biological mother walks in with the upper hand in most cases. It sounds like in all cases in your jurisdiction. For the most part, that's just human nature though, not the product of a corrupt "system". Exceptions like yours do exist.

      Also, most great lawyers want nothing to do with family law period. You have to have a screw loose to deal with angry wifes and husbands all day long. Taking phone calls all day over trivail, ridiculous, matters ("he took my toaster yesterday" yada yada yada)= not fun. I know very few family lawyers who aren't a ball of stress.

      July 15, 2010 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerry

      She could have been homeschooled "off the books," so to speak. She could have been taught what any other seven year old in school would be expected to know. There just wouldn't have been any sort of paper trail for the LEAs to detect and follow.

      July 15, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Connie

    At least they can get her into school now. Seven years old and withheld from school? Great way to ruin someone's life.

    July 15, 2010 at 3:53 am | Report abuse |
    • lochlan

      in case you haven't noticed our schools are training grounds for turning kids into consumers. How many kids know what the latest fashion and brand names to wear compared to how many graduate knowing how to do their taxes? School systems are about merchandising.

      July 15, 2010 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Jessica, Grand Rapids MI

      Lochlan – and we wonder why teachers are fed up? they are paid for crap and the parents and kids dont give a squat about getting a quality education...and there's not a dang thing teachers can do to MAKE kids and parents care. Thats the truth, thats reality. Its like getting obese people to lose weight – there's nothing you can do to make them WANT to live a healthy lifestyle. They have to want it...and let's just be real honest, far too many people just dont care and dont want to work for anything. Its not the schools fault – but im sure for the lazy minded, its an easy scape goat.

      July 15, 2010 at 8:39 am | Report abuse |
    • mrsmarvel

      Schools are only part of the education of children. I knew full well about the latest fashion trends but my parents taught me about moderation and money management. Modern parents bear responsibility just as much as school environments. I don't blame the teachers. For the most part, they are dedicated to educating their students.

      July 15, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      Bottom line, if you give birth to a child, take care of it, if you don't want to, don't have a child, tie your toobs, snip your tubes, wear a rain coat, take a pill, whatever.

      July 15, 2010 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. J

    It figures, ends up in AZ! This place is crazy-scary. Kidnapping capitol of the country, the Taliban is afraid of Phoenix.

    July 15, 2010 at 3:55 am | Report abuse |
    • MarcG_InAZ

      You are so far off base, I live here and its one of the safer cities I've lived in. Quit the trash talk. I'm glad they found the girl, my hats off to the police dept.

      July 15, 2010 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
    • michael

      Good thing she was in AZ. IF she were still in California, she'd have never been found.

      July 15, 2010 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
    • DfromthePeg

      Thank God for that.

      July 15, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cara

    Maybe they weere home schooling her.

    July 15, 2010 at 4:01 am | Report abuse |
  5. mmi16

    Sounds like a real screwed up family.

    July 15, 2010 at 4:10 am | Report abuse |
  6. Lynn

    HAS ANYONE EVER NOTICED HOW THEY NEVER TELL THE ENTIRE STORY. THE MEDIA ALWAYS HAS A 'BADGUY' AND EVEN A BADGUY HAS A SIDE TO THE STORY, BUT THEY DON'T TELL IT ALL. SAME WITH THIS CASE, FOR THREE AUNTS OF THE CHILD TO RISK SO MUCH TO KIDNAPP HER THEY MUST HAVE HAD A REASON. AS FOR HER NOT GOINIG TO SCHOOL, IF THEY ENROLLED HER THEY'D BEEN BUSTED, EVER THINK THAT MAYBE THEY SCHOOLED HER AT HOME? BUT AGAIN THEY DIDN'T GIVE ANY DETAILS FROM THE AUNT'S SIDE OF THE STORY.

    July 15, 2010 at 4:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Tkeela625

      Probably because they've all been mirandized and anything they say can and will be used against them AND there is a pending criminal case against them. They would be fools to talk to the press at this point. Not to excuse what they did of course, I'm just sayin'.... Sounds like the aunts had better get good and used to prison food.

      July 15, 2010 at 4:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Lose the Caps

      WHATS WITH THE ALL CAPS? ARE YOU SURFING THE NET ON AN OLD 90 BAUD CURRENT LOOP TELETYPE MACHINE OR WHAT? IT MUST BE VERY NOISY AT YOUR HOUSE.

      July 15, 2010 at 6:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Bryan C

      @Lose The Caps....LOL! I thought I was reading a telegraph....

      July 15, 2010 at 7:21 am | Report abuse |
    • CourtSystemReformNOW

      What you are reading is highly-subjective reporting. What is needed is OBJECTIVE reporting. However, CNN probably outsources its professional reporting duties to third-world nations to save money. Looks like it. That is my opinion.

      July 15, 2010 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      The aunts were arrested seven years ago, and have done their time. The person who has the kid now is a total stranger to the family. You are making huge assumptions that can be found to be wrong with five minutes and a search engine.

      Yes, everyone has their story. I have a hard time making up a story where the aunts are the good guys, when the kid ended up in the custody of a total stranger.

      July 15, 2010 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • rmsbl4

      @Lynn When you yell at someone it sounds louder, but here is a hint when you post in all caps nobody hears it any louder. Do you know why that is, hint, hint(do you hear me) no then, that is because there is no sound.

      July 15, 2010 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Twirlie

      I agree Lynn, and with many posts written. We need to be VERY careful what is being told as truth! No one, but the players in this story truly know what went on before, during and now! My concern is for this little girl! My concern is her being taken and put in the custody of any state care; they are abusers in their own right! Unless, they could prove this child was in harm's way, they should not have removed her, until all the facts were in order. A social service team, with medical care provider's could have been brought in, and kept on this case, until the legalities of this 'entire' situation were completed!

      July 15, 2010 at 1:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Desperado

    Lynn you have it right. A little research shows the girl was taken from an abusive situation to protect her from the parents and Californias screwed up system. It really is funny at the nuts that raant about things off the top of thier head but who can blame them when the media only tells half the story.

    July 15, 2010 at 5:04 am | Report abuse |
  8. angel arnold

    Okay...no matter what the underlying story is here...in MY opinion...praise GOD that this little girl was still alive TO be found....how many of our missing children never get found alive????

    July 15, 2010 at 5:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Reality Monger

      ".praise GOD that this little girl was still alive TO be found"

      Where was god that she was taken, or that she was in an abusive situation to start with? When something positive finally happens, you ignore all the bad things that "god" allowed, and focus on the single positive thing. This girl will never get back those formative years. There is nothing miraculous about the situation, it is sad from start to finish.

      July 15, 2010 at 6:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Bryan C

      Reality Monger....It is not sad from start to finish! According to your statement, it is sad that she was found after 7 years. Do you in "Reality" believe that? And as far as thinking that God should not allow bad things to happen, how many lessons have you learned in life due to a mistake that you were allowed to make? Some of my most important lessons learned were due to the mistakes of myself and sometimes of others. I agree, it is difficult to comprehend why an innocent person should suffer for the benefit of another not so innocent person. I believe that there are times that I have suffered and, without knowing, the suffering probably resulted in a greater positive in another's life. This positive may not occur in my lifetime....or maybe it already did. I may never know, but I have faith. Try it....you may like it.

      July 15, 2010 at 7:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Tim

      OK, so your god thing was teaching someone a lesson when he sat back and watched Jessica Lunsford go to her agonizing death at the hands of a monster?...WHEW, that's some SERIOUS tough love brother!...I'm sure glad it's not my god thing...

      July 15, 2010 at 7:38 am | Report abuse |
    • angel arnold

      reality monget....I'm sorry....GOD in this term may not mean that MY God is your God...YOUR God could be known as Jehovah, Danny from the downtown liquor stor, Satan, the green wood elf, St Joseph the patron saint, Lord Vadar and all his minions...just because I said GOD...dont get your crusty panties in a bunch and go off on "where was God when she was kidnapped"...for the slow thinkers as youself...let me rephrase that...THANK THE ONE WHO REIGN SUPREME OVER ALL THINGS...whoever YOU may call him or her....
      Is that better for you...or should I draw you a picture to make it more understandable to you?

      July 15, 2010 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Bryan C

      Tim, what happened to Jessica was a terrible thing for sure. I would not want anyone to endure that.....especially an innocent child. I am not happy at all that she suffered what was dealt her. But, without Jessica there would be no Jessica's Law to hopefully prevent this from happening in the future. We live in a world were we have free will. It is your choice to commit a horrible crime or to be a good person. And if you commit a horrible crime, then someone will surely suffer. But, i there will also be a positive side to what you do. Maybe people in the future will look at your life and decide to take a different path. With every positive there is a negative. Now as far a believing in God, if you choose, by your own free will, to not believe in God and in the end discover that you were wrong....that God does exist, what will it matter to you? Now, if I find out in the end that I was wrong and God does not exist after all, what have I lost? It is your choice and I will not respect you any less as a person regardless of what you choose.

      July 15, 2010 at 8:14 am | Report abuse |
    • You People Are Crazy

      This is not a happy ending story. This girl will be taken into foster care. Her parents abused her and her Aunts broke the law to rescue her. The family that has raised her for the last six years will face criminal charges. This little girl now has no one but the CA family court to protect her and that wont be pretty either. This is not a happy ending.

      July 15, 2010 at 9:03 am | Report abuse |
    • blah

      This proves it, all disscussions eventually lead to God... Either way, the girls life will suck. I wouldn't trust a foster care system with my life (and I almost had to), and it sounds like she's already lost out on what... 2 years of school? But in all fairness there is a lot missing from this story? What kind of conditions was the kid living in? How was she being treated after being taken from the CA courts? Apparently she was living with people who were totally unrelated, how did that come to be? To much missing to make a generalized statement.

      July 15, 2010 at 9:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      @People are crazy: I agree. There is no such thing as a happy ending here. There wasn't a happy middle either. In the very best case possible, she ends up with decent foster parents, and we all know, that's a throw of the dice. A friend of mine spent several years in foster care, and almost six months of that was in a good home. The rest of it, was with families that were collecting the check and providing him with a place to sleep and get his stuff stolen. Everything he owned worth having, he gave to his friends to keep safe until he was old enough to go to college. He would turn up every now and then looking for crash space, call the state people to tell them why the latest place wasn't working, and we would make sure he had clothes that fit and were appropriate for the weather. If he got new clothes along the way, the foster families would take them, and he would end up in someone else's hand me downs.

      July 15, 2010 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
    • worried

      How can any one say that there is no happy ending here. Her life isn't over it is just beginning. Only because your life sucks doesn't mean this little girl won't find away to make her's as wonderful as she wants. Her situation sucks but maybe not her life. As far as you know she might be happier now. Who knows. But as long as she is alive you can't say there is no happy ending.

      July 15, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      @Worried: She is 7, she hasn't spent one year of her life with her own parents. She was kidnapped and given to this stranger, who did not educate her. Now she is 7 years old and in the care of the state. Sure, her life is still just beginning, but she has some serious strikes against her. No one wants to adopt a troubled 7 year old with special educational needs. She will move from foster home to foster home, changing schools as she goes. Her delayed start to her education means she will need a concentrated long term effort to catch up, which is not going to happen as she switches schools.

      She could beat the odds and be the kid who spends 11 years in the foster care system, gets a high school diploma, gets into a college, and doesn't get s*xually abused along the way, but it's not likely.

      July 15, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ms bea

      draw the picture angel Arnold it seems your supreme being-god would look like pretty much anything and everything...all at the the same time. You sound like those Masonic moorons where one's god is to each his own...if that's the case, there is no such thing as supreme or supremacy: cause each person has his own. You would do better making yourself your god. For who is like unto God??? Certainly, not the one who cannot even create himself. But if you declare yourself god...you could also declare you created the joker sitting across from you...your declaration would at least be insanely agreement with each other.

      July 16, 2010 at 5:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Lydia

      @ Reality Monger who must have skipped some Bible History along the way. God does not take part in evil deeds, that is the work of the dark side. Those who exist on the dark side have no boundaries, and are keeping the world in turmoil. You will know them by their works. But please do not blame God for things you do not understand. Open a Bible and check my statement. You will find the truth you are seeking in the New Testament.

      July 16, 2010 at 8:49 am | Report abuse |
    • leslie

      Reality Monger- It is called free agency and all of us have it. God allows for us to make decisions on our own. This earth is a trial for all of us. The purpose is to return to Him one day. Yes, he does allow good and bad to happen. He can also stop it if He wants to, if it is His will. God is real. This is a miracle in every sense. I pray that the spirit of the Lord will touch you and that you will feel His love.

      July 21, 2010 at 7:32 am | Report abuse |
  9. Linderella

    she was found...alive...now she can start a life and get an education and be a child. I'm sure there will be many therapy sessions because of the ordeal.

    July 15, 2010 at 5:23 am | Report abuse |
    • dee

      I was absued. Before everyone on here thinks tha this girl was living an ordeal, you might ask yourself, this: Someone she doesn't know somes in and takes her away from the parents SHE knows. What is HER feelings? How do you know she was being abused, or that there was an ordeal? You don't KNOW she wasn't being taught at home. Things are NOT black and white America. Wake up. From this to the oil disaster, the dumbing down of news, and everyday life, for the average Joe Blow out there, is getting ridiculous. You can't think for yourself, you can't reason, nope, it's all about beliving what you read, AND not being able to realize there is a different side to thsi you are not being allowed to see. JUST LIKE BP. THEY ARE MORONS. Yet, many American's are pulling right on into them there gas stations, and filling up yo pretty little cars....grinning like idiots.

      July 15, 2010 at 8:05 am | Report abuse |
  10. nicetold-utres

    she was found...alive...now she can start a life and get an education and be a child. I

    July 15, 2010 at 5:33 am | Report abuse |
  11. R. Mussared

    the whole story is not here, like where are the parents?

    July 15, 2010 at 6:08 am | Report abuse |
  12. atty2b

    God bless the child.

    July 15, 2010 at 6:16 am | Report abuse |
  13. Tonya

    I think may of you are right, I think there is more to the story than what is written here. Her aunts must have had a reason to risk so much to kidnap her and keep her hidden. When people become desperate they will do whatever it takes..even break the law and do what THEY think at that time is in the best interest of the child. It sounds to me, and I hope it is the case, that is was done out of love for her. The story says that she was found in good physical condition and the way it reads is the only trauma she had was from when the aunts were busted and they came in and took her away! I agree that maybe they were home schooling her..as ALOT of parents do these days! Can't jump to the conclusion that she was kept uneducated without knowing the facts. I am not saying that what they did was necessarily right, but again not knowing the situation behind it...it may not have been completely wrong either. I hope that the little girl is able to eventually recover from the trauma, and is placed with a loving family, which sadly isn't ALWAYS the case EVEN in a state approved foster family.

    July 15, 2010 at 6:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. cheryl

    Poor little girl, bet she was so traumatized with all this. I got divorced in California and they don't give a damn about nobody. They could care less about your children. to kidnap a child and take her across state lines becomes a federal crime, thats big stuff,so there had to be more than what is written here. I agree with whomever said the government owns your kids, try slapping them on the butt once and see what happens to you.

    July 15, 2010 at 6:37 am | Report abuse |
  15. Tammy

    Thank God she was found alive. Praying that she will one day have a normal life.

    July 15, 2010 at 6:43 am | Report abuse |
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