13-Year-Old Kidnapping Victim Rescued After Good Samaritan Sees Sign That Read ‘Help Me!’

The Long Beach Police Department is thanking its community for assisting in the rescue of a 13-year-old kidnapping victim and the arrest of her kidnapper. She spent three days with the suspect, who drove her from Texas (where she was kidnapped on July 6) to California (where she was rescued on July 9). 

Those three days were the worst three days of her life as she was both threatened and sexually abused by the suspect, who has been identified as Steven Robert Sablan – a 61-year-old resident of Cleburne, Texas. They eventually stopped at a laundromat in Long Beach, where she was left alone in the vehicle. 

A couple of good samaritans were walking through the parking lot when they saw the little girl in the car – she was holding up a small sign that read, “Help me!” The good samaritans – who are being hailed as heroes – notified the police and they arrived on the scene in time to rescue the girl and arrest the suspect. 

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The kidnapping took place on July 6, when Steven Sablan approached the 13-year-old girl in his gray Nissan Sentra and told her to get in his vehicle. She obliged after he raised a gun to his side and told her, “If you don’t get in the car with me, I am going to hurt you.” Once in the vehicle, Sablan started driving. 

Sablan asked her how old she was and tried to comfort her by promising to take her on a cruise vacation to Australia, but only if she did something for him first. Over the next few days, the suspect sexually abused the teenager on numerous occasions as they continued their drive from Texas to California. 

On July 9, the suspect decided to stop at a laundromat in Long Beach to wash their clothes, which hadn’t been washed in three days. While in the laundromat, the kidnapping victim held up her ‘Help me!’ sign until someone finally noticed. If it weren’t for those good samaritans, the little girl might still be missing. 

Police arrived shortly after and saw the suspect standing outside the vehicle – the little girl was inside mouthing the word ‘Help.’ Authorities found a black BB gun, the ‘Help Me!’ sign that the little girl made, and a pair of handcuffs. After rescuing the little girl, police determined she was a runaway missing person.

Kidnapping Suspect Has Arraignment Scheduled for July 31

Steven Sablan was arrested and sent to Long Beach City Jail – where he was booked for kidnapping, lewd and lascivious acts with a child, and fugitive from justice. On July 20, he was charged with one count of kidnapping and one count of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. 

According to the United States Attorney’s Office, Sablan is currently facing ‘a statutory maximum sentence of life in federal prison’ if convicted of both charges. They also confirmed that Assistant United States Attorney Chelsea Norell of the Violent and Organized Crime Section will be prosecuting this case.

“I want to commend our community members for their vigilance and willingness to get involved by calling 9-1-1. This incident highlights the critical role community members play in keeping people safe,” said Chief of Police Wally Hebeish – while also praising his officers for their ‘swift response and actions.’

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As for the little girl, she was handed over to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). She was later reunited with her family and is now beginning the process of recovering from the trauma and abuse she experienced between July 6 and 9. The suspect has an arraignment scheduled for July 31.

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