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. Matt

    Home schooled kids may be book smart but I've never seen someone who was home schooled have a great social life, I am friends with some people who were home schooled until high school and those first few years were very tough for them. Early home schooling is fine but eventually they need some peer interaction.

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

      Actually, study after study has shown that homeschool kids do as well socially, if not better, than publicly educated kids. If done right, homeschool kids have plenty of opportunity for socialization through fieldtrips with other homeschool kids, sport leagues, classes through local recreation districts and colleges, playgroups, etc.

      July 15, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tracy

    So now she'll be in MUCH better care with CPS, because everyone knows how great a job they do....makes perfect sense...if your a government employee.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sean

    I'd like to know how long the child has been in the home. Given what I know about how our legal system deals with children ( as property instead of people ), it wouldn't surprise me to learn that this home is he only home the child has ever known. That the state ripped her away from the only parents she's had.

    Yes, being withheld from school is a bad thing. What's worse is losing your family AND being placed in foster care in the state of california. The state and their "justice" will traumatize this child, and will scar her for life, far more than being withheld from school ever could.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. echo

    I've never met a home schooled child who turned out to be a stable adult. The home schooling system is full of fraud and often conceals criminal behavior like child abuse or incest. I have known 14 home schooled adults and their problems ranges from incest to no schooling at all. I have no problem with adults teaching children out side of the public school system but it needs some major regulation and testing otherwise it will continue to harbor criminal behavior. Not a single one of these adults can hold down a job for longer than 6months and most of the time they got jobs because people felt bad for them. None of them will ever work anything but a minimum wage job and they are so furious at their families for home schooling them that they have moved across the country and have little to no contact with them. Even the one person who had good, structured home schooling hates her parents because she has no ability to work with other people in any kind of job environment. So, I guess home school your kids if they are going to take over the family business or are going to inherent money.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • John

      I too know quite a few adults that were homeschooled including 2 doctors, a lawyer, 3 engineers, and a federal judge. Not one of the homeschooled adults that I know is a criminal or habitually unemployed and they all seem to have a reasonably good relationship with their parents. Several are choosing to homeschool their own kids. Maybe you just run with the wrong crowd.

      July 15, 2010 at 6:07 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Amanduh

    I'm a little disturbed by the number of people who insist that the girl's family must have had a good reason for doing this. You may not want to admit this, but there are people out there who don't really care about their kids, until someone reports them for abuse and neglect and the kids are taken away. But they don't want the kids back because they love and miss them. Their reaction is that one of their possessions was taken away, and they're mad that someone is telling them what to do. I recall one father who screamed bloody murder about his baby being taken away due to neglect. Then he missed his first supervised visit with the kid; when CPS got ahold of him, he explained that he didn't show up because he was at a very important point of his video game. You may not like to think about it, but these kinds of people do exist. And it entirely possible that this girl's family is the same way.

    July 15, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • KatieS

      This is certainly true! I could write a book about the crazy excuses I have heard over the years for parents missing visits with their kids or not completing the caseplan to regain custody. Many of these parents say they want their kids back, but they don't want to do the work necessary to get them back. Even the easy stuff like showing up for visits!

      I remember the mother of one baby I fostered (and later adopted). She regained custody only to lose her again a month later. Why? Because she spent her welfare check on a new big screen TV, but was giving the 3 week old baby Kool Aid because she couldn't afford formula! She wept and cried in court about how everybody was against her and how unfair it was and how it wasn't her fault that she was poor! Thankfully, she never regained custody and now I am proud to call this beautiful girl my daugther. I just can't understand how anyone would sacrifice the well-being of their child for a big screen TV!

      July 15, 2010 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. n506

    How sad for this young girl!

    I hope the aunt who kidnapped her gets her just rewards.

    July 15, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Open Minded

    There is always two sides to every story...there is a reason why her aunts felt the need to take her from the system, and when they were such a young age....maybe they were in the system at one point themselves and didn't trust the system because of bad personal exsperiences. Until you have been put in the system yourself and know what its about and what its NOT about....then you should all keep an open mind. Own personal exsperiences here I know for a fact the media lies and or always doesnt tell the whole truth and its for reasons just like this....they want the most attention possible and that's exactly what all of you are doing with this case....did anyone even think about asking the little girl if she was happy where she was, has any one of you thought of maybe she was being home schooled and they just failed to report that part of it...come on people, be smarter then that, there is always two sides to every story, and even the little girl has her own story and at least she was in a home and taken care of, and she wasnt being bounced around in the system because let me tell you even foster parents out there dont have the right intensions with these children, they are in it for the money and abuse the kids...wait for the WHOLE story before you open your opinions.

    July 15, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  8. DfromthePeg


    July 15, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Chris

    So why was this girl in a foster home if she had 3 aunts that wanted her so badly? Obviously they aren't legal or they would have been able to get her through the courts as they tend to allow kids to stay with family over going to strangers as long as the situation is a safe one. What we need to do is get all these illegals out of the country!

    July 15, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. christine ferrer

    Do u think home schooled kids are locked inside all day? Cant base all home schoolers on a few you knew in high school. Thats what play groups and parks and sport teams , piano and dance lessons are for. They just weren't socialized enough.

    July 15, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Amie

    Are you kidding me?! This little girl was found ALIVE after being abducted when she was a baby SEVEN YEARS AGO and you people are nitpicking because she was kept from receiving a "formal education"?! You should be rejoicing that she was even found at all, alive or deceased. The focus should be on her well-being, getting her into a loving home environment with people she can bond with and trust first. Shes only 7 years old for Petes sake, she can catch up on her schooling when the bigger issues are dealt with and shes ready to take it on. Perspective people, perspective!!!!!

    July 15, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ang

    WOW, you think you've heard it all until you hear about one more....

    July 15, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JimmyD

    OK every one, this is your boss, you need to get back to work please!

    July 15, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Amie

    Just on comment on the negativity about homeschooling: YOU ALL ARE COMPLETELY INGNORANT!! Dont judge the whole homeschooling community on the occasional brushes you may have had with a socially inept or ill adjusted homeschool kid. On average, homeschoolers are extremely bright, well rounded kids and are involved in several social activities and go on to lead perfectly normal and productive lives. Of course there are people who take advantage of the system, homeschool and public school, there are bad apples everywhere. Do some solid research and get your facts straight before you go spouting off absolutely absurd and false comments! And by the way, why is a kids social life the end all be all when discussing a kids education?! I think if kids and parents alike spent a little LESS time worrying about their all important social lives and focused more on actually getting an education (public or homeschool), perhaps we wouldnt have such out of control problems in our schools (bullying, promiscuity, addictions etc.) and with our kids. Just a thought! And for the record, my kids attended public school for several years and we now are registered homeschoolers with our state. We follow a strict cirriculum from a private school, take outside art and music classes and are involved in sports. They are happy, thriving and according to their latest state test, are progressing well academically. And guess what! They have a HUGE pool of friends that get together with constantly! Thats the average homeschool family, period! Ive been on both sides of the coin. Im not an anti-public school mom, just wanted a better education for my kids!

    July 15, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ...

    Even if the kid was taken...was she happy?

    July 15, 2010 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marissa Sio

      I wonder why the aunts took her? I wonder if they were trying to save her from something? for all 3 aunt to have the same idea and fallow through knowing how much trouble they can get in to make me wonder.

      March 8, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
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