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. LumLum

    People defending the aunts, come on! Get a clue! Social Service's first resource in placing a foster child is to place her with other family members. If the child was living with foster parents instead of her aunts, then the aunts had already investigaged and deemed unfit or unable to care for the child properly. This young child would have quickly been adopted into a loving home, and if the aunts really loved her they would have wanted that for her. The aunts ruined her life so far. No excuse for them.

    July 15, 2010 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |

    Throw all of them in jail including the dog and cat

    July 15, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Lights Out

    There are red flags all over the place here. 1)Not living with a relative 2) Name changed 3) Birth date changed 4) Not schooled 5) Hid in the bathroom under a pile of clothes. I don't even want to think about what this girl has been through or what her future would have held in store. Thank goodness the police found her.

    July 15, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jerry

    For all of you getting bent out of shape about the child's schooling, stop and think a minute. How old is she? Seven? How much schooling has she missed? Pre-school? Kindergarten? Maybe part of the first grade? Get a grip, people. It's not as though she's been intellectually crippled for the rest of her life...like Jaycee Duggard's kids. Besides, giving the caretakers the benefit of the doubt, if she was being homeschooled, IMHO she's better off anyway.

    July 15, 2010 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amie

      Totally agree !

      July 15, 2010 at 10:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Liz

    Home schooled or not to me isn't important. This poor girl just had her life torn apart because of those so called aunt's. The trama the girl is going through has got to be tremendous. She must be totally tramatized. Imagine how you would be if your life was alter for reasons you did not know, nor understand. I hope she has the best child psychologist available. She will need all the help she can get. She needs this to help her understand or begin to understand.

    July 15, 2010 at 8:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Karmen

    L.A. County sheriff's investigators and Phoenix police found Amber living with the family in a small house that doubles as a tarot card and palm-reading business on a busy thoroughfare on the city's north end. Police and neighbors said it is the only house on the street.

    The aunts picked real winners, didn't they? Better to trust the judgment of teenage girls than experienced judges and attorneys, right?

    July 15, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ary

    Sometimes, the law in itself, is the most stupid (THe Police, The FBI, and any Law enforcement Agency) sets of rules we, as a society have established, along with many of the agents enforcing it. If, the little girl had Biological aunts who care for her wellfare, why some did some stupid, imbicile judge granted custody to some foster parents just so they get their $&95.00 per month and or just because they want more kids or the kid they don't have? Any imbicile may come with some logical answer according to their pathetic judgement, but if they (The little girl's biological aunts were willing to risk and sacrifice themselves and their lives to support the child and care for their own blood, why did the F#$%@#G legal system get involved?

    July 16, 2010 at 12:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Ary

      OK, This is me again. Maybe I jumped into conclusions without knowing the truth of the whole thing, and got angry to the fact that I believe family if all willing should be in charged of the gilrs wellfare. Off course, if they are in the positin and given the fact they are decent people. But, let understand that these a minor girls whom lack of judgement, experience, and being afrai of what could happen to them if caught resorted to deliver the little girl to someone whom authorities complemented in their report by saying the girl was well taken care of. True, she was not going to school, and that should be address. But, if they had not been scare of what could happen (which it did, now) to them if caught, the girl would have attended school.

      July 16, 2010 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  8. gypsys

    ok shes only 7yrs old she can go to Kindergarten not a big deal geewiz get down to the real fact here was she SOLD or STOLED and if she was sold did they check the back ground too see if they are drug addicts because only drug addicts would sell their kids and their all gypsys they all know each other some how some way oh and was this reported in 2003 or just now because they knew where she was all this time odd how the cops knew where to go right think about it she could been any where in this world and most people who have been kidnapped are really never found a lil weird i think maybe they wanted to resale her their low on the dough i hate stupid people

    July 16, 2010 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  9. Wolf

    This may not be a popular comment, but I have to say something. As an elementary school teacher, I just cringe when I hear a parent or someone say they can teach their child better or home-schooling is better than a 'going to school' education. Unless you have been trained or have a degree in education I do not recommend it. People think you put a book in front of a child and say 'read and learn'. One should be trained in the process of teaching; best practices, the scaffolding of instruction and lessons, assessment testing and understanding of the assessment data. It goes on and on, teachers are even trained throughout the year and summer, we continue training and educating Ourselves to better teach children our entire careers. So please, before you become completely fed up with the public education system; it would be better to assist and help your child daily After school and build on what the school has taught your child. We are provided the best standards, practices and resources to best educate your child and prepare them for a higher education.

    July 16, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  10. Hiina_Zeero

    Does everyone seem to forget that this child lived her entire life thinking she was a different person? She hid from the police in a bathtub under clothes. Everything she knows is a lie. I feel sorry for her....

    July 17, 2010 at 1:36 am | Report abuse |
  11. sanjosemike

    To: Reformcourtsystemsnow:

    As justice systems go, ours is not much worse than what is already out there in the rest of the world. Anyone going into ANY court system had better be prepared for a crap-shoot. The best you can do is to try to avoid it entirely. A strange "advantage" of any court system is that nobody should ever want to get involved with it, and avoid it at all costs.

    I'm not sure your "reform" would help. Obviously you feel grievously damaged by the result of your own situation, whatever it is. Any justice system will respond to those who have resources. That may mean money, but it also means knowledge and research. Often you can trump the money side of the equation if you are extremely well prepared.

    But, even after you "reform" the American court system, some sloppiness and garbage will float to the top. There's no reform (even your proposed ones) that will prevent it. sanjosemike

    July 17, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. cojack

    i would of gladly took them seven yrs..

    July 17, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. cojack

    you wanna no y home school kid r "smarter" than public school kids......because home school kids get kickd,slapped mayb even punch in da face win there answers r wrong...to avoid dat they study 24/80

    July 17, 2010 at 4:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. triciaplumley

    I have to laugh at the idiots who believe every word they read and every "thing" they hear on television. The term "schooling was not provided for" means "there is no PUBLIC RECORD of her schooling." If you check FACTS...home schooled children are of a much HIGHER intelligence than those in public warehoused schools 😉 Just an FYI.

    July 17, 2010 at 9:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. al

    It is extrememly sad that this child must now transition into a mental shock and disruption. As long as she is not abused why can't they leave here where she is, in her home, and then go through the legal procedures, Make sure she is educated, be it home school or public school if this is the biggest fault of her keepers. Her aunts made sure that she is living a good life – I'm sure they see her every day. Now put her in the public system where she will definitely now be abused by 'strangers'. Is this not more strain on the tax payers also?

    July 19, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
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