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. Arthur

    Why don't people just have another? Having babies or adopting them is so easy as opposed to staying in hiding all your life.

    July 15, 2010 at 8:41 am | Report abuse |
    • Kraznodar

      You obviously have no children to be able to say something so incredibly uncaring, unless you are a sociopath.

      July 15, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  2. dave

    So how much money will the state of California or Arizona have to pay because officials weren't doing their jobs?

    July 15, 2010 at 8:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. Martin

    I'm for the chair too.

    I'm not much caring about the weak reporting or the legal system in any sense beyond the welfare of the child as of right now. I hope someone with the power and money to make a difference will help this child.

    If you can't defend the children in your nation you've got a serious problem. Justice requires serious consequences for these people.

    July 15, 2010 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. Joy

    Something about this story just doesn't make sense & there are too many unanswered questions. Why was the child in foster care? Why did the aunts feel the need to kidnap the child? What or who were they trying to protect this child from? Was the child being well cared for or abused in the AZ home? Did she actually receive home schooling which CNN neglected to mention or no education at all? I say stay turned for more to this story before passing judgment on anyone.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:05 am | Report abuse |
  5. give me a break

    Joe, homeschooling is in no way abuse. The majority of children that are homeschooled are very intelligent. Keeping a child in a school where they learn nothing and get beaten daily with no help from school staff is abuse. Go eat that pickle that is shoved up your nether regions. You sound like an idiot.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:07 am | Report abuse |
  6. renuel

    What in the world is everyone talking about. The child is 7–how much of a formal education should she have had? Depending on her birthday she may just now be ready to go to first grade! As for the rest–we do not know if the child suffered any trauma. She surely doesn't remember being taken and who said she was abused by anyone??? Just be thankful she was found and pray for her. If the media will leave her alone–she may be just fine.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
  7. Yuhong

    As a chinese appinion, don't blame aunts first, blame parents first. Use your brain first then action second. Also need to ask that girl's feeling. How did her aunt treat her. If that girl already close to her aunt then suddently take away from her aunt that is abuse. What if sombody suddently take you away from the person you close and being with every day. How is that feeling? I can't imagine. That will be a big mental problem for that 7 year-old girl. Please ask that little girl first. I have three kids and I was abused when I was a child. I know that feeling.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  8. boo

    Sentenced to the chair? Really? No one knows why the aunts did what they did.....where are the parents? The aunts could have been trying to protect her....removing the child from danger. Maybe they thought that the child would be placed back in the parents custody and knew that wasn't the best place for her to be. What they did was legally wrong, but maybe they actually saved her life. We don't know what the parents were like. We don't have all of the information, and probably never will. I am thrilled that she was found alive! The news is full of stories about the horrible things that do happen to children that should have been removed from their homes. Stories of a child being hurt or killed after being returned to the parents. As far as her education......she can attend school now and with the help of tutors she can catch up to her peers. She has bigger problems than that right now. This child will be in therapy for a while. She has no idea who she even is. I hope that the child is placed into a loving, caring home with very patient parents. She is going to need a lot of love and understanding.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  9. Got The Scoop?

    Seriously lame reporting job CNN, thanks for half of nothing.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:18 am | Report abuse |
  10. Erica

    Good for them! We need to have the Child Protection Services monitored and new laws set because they abduct children all the time for the all american dollar. That little girl was saved from molestation and being sold to the highest bidder for 7 years. Now, unfortunately, she will go back to that hell. Foster parents should be ashamed and your days are numbered!

    July 15, 2010 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Court

      I'm a foster parent, do you want to say that again? The 23 month old in our home was born addicted to cocaine...16 months later his mother had another boy addicted to opiates...she says she's too busy to do drug screens and visit her kids. The only relatives that aren't on drugs allowed drugs to be used in their home in front of these boy's half-siblings. So yeah, we're all a bunch of self-promoting child molesters. GET A FREAKING CLUE! If you read the other posts you will see some people who are actually familiar with the case and what they have to say. So think of that before you get on your soapbox and condemn others.

      July 15, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Grouchy

    Kidnapping is kidnapping. Crossing borders isfedral. Death sentence is an option. The law is the law until changed.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  12. Ozzy

    they must have been republicans... hahahhahahhahah.. just kidding...... not really!

    July 15, 2010 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  13. Maria

    @ George, you said transporting over multiple state lines? In your world, how many states do you have to cross to get from California to Arizona? Looks like you are the one that needs the schooling.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:38 am | Report abuse |
    • Ms bea

      Uhmm, I beg to differ it is possible that one can cross several state lines getting from California to Arizona. The aunt crossed the
      CA/AZ-line and realized she forgot something, went back to get it: crossed the CA/AZ-line again, once home...I mean foster home...retrieved item and got back in the car: crossed the CA/AZ-line again to drop the child off in Arizona to the non-relative. That would a total of 3 crossings...anything greater than 2 qualifies as several. Maria you may not need any schooling but you wouldn't make it into anyone's magna program for "several" is possible. You owe George an apology.

      July 16, 2010 at 6:36 am | Report abuse |
  14. Neece

    You know what...the foster care system in this country sucks! Its broken and I do not blame the aunts for taking this child. Now what...where does she go? Into a broken fostercare system. Lets pray she survives!

    July 15, 2010 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  15. jack

    Kidnapping is when you take someone and hold them for ransom. This wasn't kidnapping. This was a domestic dispute. Big Deal. Happens all the time.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      anytime you take someone you don't have legal custody of, that is kidnapping. there may be some sort of necessity or protection defense depending on the state. but the fact they couldn't bother to send her to school says a lot.

      July 15, 2010 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Linney

      That's not the definition of kidnapping AT ALL. Consider actually knowing what you're talking about before posting. Do you really mean to tell me that you believe that when some stranger takes a child and DOESN'T ask for ransom, it's NOT kidnapping? Seriously?

      July 15, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
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