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. missadr

    My cousin and her husband are foster parents. They're good people. But most foster homes are not like that. Most are horrible. If my niece of nephew was about to be sent to a foster home in South Carolina, I'd go kidnap them too. And keeping a kid out of school doesn't mean they don't get an education. I never went to school, but scored among the top ten in the nation on the ACT exams. Then I ended up getting my degree from one of the best colleges in the world. That little girl is probably lucky. If that family was good to her, as I suspect they were, they should give her back to them.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • rmsbl4

      If you never went to school how did you learn to read and write, to take your ACT. Isn't it a law in most states that you have to have schooling until you are16, or as the saying goes barefoot and pregnant

      July 15, 2010 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Kraznodar

      rmsbl4 – it is called home schooling. Typical home schooled people score higher on ACT and SAT than do public school graduates from most states. Getting your undies in a bunch over semantics doesn't impress most people.

      July 15, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • Howie

      Home Schooling = Child Abuse

      July 15, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cindy

      @Howie – what a dumb statment. Hitting, beating and any other form of hurting your child is abuse. Deciding to school them at home, is a choice, a free choice that parents can make.

      July 15, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |

    One of my children is a lawyer and works in family courts; "messed up" is an understatement. Those courts are generally more disfunctional than the people who appear before them.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  3. Dee

    The foster care system does suck and much psychological damage takes place from being moved regularly -I don't want to hear from anyone this doesn't happen anymore, it does even though there are at least efforts to keep it down. So in that respect she was saved. But they couldn't even send her to school? Why was nobody trying to "save" her from foster care bothering to follow up?

    July 15, 2010 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  4. Nick

    California is the land of fruits and nuts heavy on the nuts and this is another prime example the biggest negative impact is obviously on the poor child.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
  5. John

    In the interest of the child, the child probably considers the aunts or her family in Phoenix her family, not the foster parents in California. I suspect that the child was under the guardianship of the Phoenix family so that she would not be found. But hey laws were broken, so let's give the child back to the state of California.

    July 15, 2010 at 9:58 am | Report abuse |
  6. MichaelChatt

    I'm not sure it's fair for us to pass judgement with so little information. They apparently got the girl into a place she was cared for, or at least we hope they did. We don't have a reason to believe they didn't just yet. So what if she wasn't in school? Did she get home schooled? Many kids are home schooled and do as well or better than many kids in public school. What happened to the girls parent? Why did her aunts have to get involved? What happened to her aunts who were caught? What happened to the aunt who wasn't captured? This is a deep story with not much detail provided.

    July 15, 2010 at 10:03 am | Report abuse |
  7. wowlfie

    Sad when individuals resort to such shenanigans thinking they are helping a child. These 'kidnappers' ruined a girl's chance to get a fair start in life by denying her schooling, leaving her at peril of being teased by others her own age, she didn't get to know and grow up around her real family (or related parties), was terrified in the end when she has to go back to real parents, and was probably abused more than likely by kidnappers or those who 'adopted' the child and whom tried to hide her to cover their tracks. Poor girl. Those involved should all be given life in jail with no possibility of parole.

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

      We don't know all the details. For all we know, the child was fine with her biological family and taken by the state and thrown into foster care for some false accusation. OR the foster family was hurting the child and the aunts (all three of them) decided to risk their own lives (basically ruin them, be on the run for life) in order to help the child. We need to hear the side of the aunts. The state messes up children's lives more so than you can imagine. And foster homes are not always happy places but places of abuse.

      July 15, 2010 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  8. rmsbl4

    How did this woman know they were coming with a search warrent and have time to hide the child. It was a little dumb on her part as the police found her anyway.

    July 15, 2010 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  9. Oklahoma29

    This is such an odd and sad story. I couldn't imagine being seven and getting taken away three times from my true family. I think it is also very sad she will spend time in DHS and probably another foster family. I personally think there is way more to this story. There has to be some reason the aunts did not feel the child was in the right place with the foster parents. There are a lot of crazy people in this world, but usually they don't come in a pack of three.

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

      You haven't met very many people have you? Crazies congregate. Take my inlaws or my own family for example. I won't go into detail about my inlaws but my mom taught us to hug trees. Literally hug trees. You know what that accomplishes? Bark splinters, ticks and ants crawling on you.

      July 15, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Ms bea

      Krazo...I mean...Kraznodar: gimme a break! I hugged trees, too, plenty of 'em as a child we called it Home-base or Safe and no ant, spider, splinter, mosquito, lion, tigers, or bears was gonna make us get tagged. Now, if ya told us my-momma-made-me-go-git-the-switch-off-the-tree story, then I would be feelin ya! But if all
      yo-momma did was told you to go hug a tree you got off easy...
      excuse me...IN ALL CAPS...EASY!!! And don't be dissing the poor woman after you got on her last nerve...honor your mother and father...

      July 16, 2010 at 6:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. unionjack84

    why would the aunts kidnap her and then foist her off on others? what was the motive for the kidnapping? why even bother to abduct a child if you don't want to have anything to do with her after the kidnapping? how did the aunts and the couple become acquaintances? this story has a lot of loopholes. as for the child, her parents will be thrilled to have her back. she will need counseling though, no doubt about it

    July 15, 2010 at 10:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. e-mom

    How sad for the child that the STATE of CA got her.

    July 15, 2010 at 10:16 am | Report abuse |
  12. rh

    Okay, where is her $20 million dollars?

    July 15, 2010 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Kraznodar

      Different situation. The system worked this time.

      July 15, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kaylan

    To be fair, we need to hear from the aunts why they took the child in the beginning, putting their own lives at risk, in order to rescue (possibly) this child.

    July 15, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  14. Ginger Devotion

    Here is a case about a child being abducted, no one knows where she was for 7 years, and now she's been found which is absolutely incredible . . . and somehow I see all these comments turning it into political issue... trying to turn it into some kind of big conspiracy. It's too much. I'm very aware and involved with politics, but some times... it isn't about that. Maybe this time it's about 3+ people committing a crime and instead of them finding a body of a child buried somewhere.. they found the victim! This should be about celebration, not which side is right! As far as all of you jumping to judge everyone involved based on one single article that provides very little detailed information... I think you imagination is working overtime on this one. Sure, I have my theories and my questions based on the fact presented before me, but I'm not going to make any outrageous assumption because of prejudices. I get it, the internet is a wonderful place where you can say anything you want! ... but just because you can doesn't always mean you should... anonymity only goes so far.

    July 15, 2010 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  15. Leisa

    I would break the law too if my nieces or nephew should end up in the foster system. Who is going to care more some stranger that's just collecting the government check or blood relatives. To hell with the system.

    July 15, 2010 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Kraznodar

      Most child abusers love the children they abuse. Your logic is flawed.

      July 15, 2010 at 11:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Paul

      Her 13 year old aunts kidnapped her from the strangers the state selected to care for the child, and gave her to a completely different stranger. The child did not end up in the loving arms of her family, she just got handed to a different stranger. How's that help?

      The strangers that the state had picked to care for the child were throwing her a birthday party at a place where people throw birthday parties, and had some members of the childs family present. The strangers that the kidnappers gave the child to did not educate her, did not tell her her own name, did not allow any contact with her own family, and were hiding her in a bathtub under some towels.

      Your sympathy seems misplaced.

      July 15, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
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