A statewide AMBER Alert was issued for 14-year-old Ayvani Hope Perez, who was abducted by two men during a home-invasion robbery early Sept. 17, 2013, in Ellenwood, Ga.
(Photo: Clayton County (Ga.) Police Department)
Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY
A 14-year-old Georgia girl abducted from her home near Atlanta Tuesday was found alive on Wednesday and two suspects were taken into custody. Authorities said at least two more suspects -- including those depicted in a police sketch -- remained at large.
The girl, Ayvani Hope Perez, was taken to a local hospital for observation and was reunited with her family.
"She is in good health," Clayton County police chief Gregory Porter told reporters at a news briefing.
Ayvani was snatched from her home in Ellenwood, Ga., about 2:15 am. Tuesday by two masked men who demanded jewelry and money. She was dropped off by the abductors in Conyers, Ga., and picked up by police, according to authorities.
Police said the two suspects, including one Mexican national, have not been charged in the abduction case, but with unrelated charges.
They were identified as Wildrego Jackson, 29, of Atlanta, who was described by officials as a career felon, and Juan Alberto Contreras Rodriguez, 40.
Authorities were tight-lipped about the case, saying that they did not want to jeopardize their efforts to round up other suspects in the case. FBI agent Rick Maxwell said only that the two suspects were arrested without incident.
He added that the two suspects shown in a widely circulated sketch by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation "are still at large."
Two armed intruders, who were initially looking for money and jewelry, demanded $10,000 ransom, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday. NBC News reports that the kidnappers later raised their ransom demand to $100,000.
A statewide AMBER Alert had been issued for Ayvani, who is 4 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs 93 pounds. She was last seen wearing blue-and-gray Star Wars pajamas and a blue-and-gray "Super Hero" shirt. The FBI has also joined the investigation.
Clayton County Officer Phong Nguyen said the robbers pried open a back door to gain entry. Ayvani's mother, Maria Magdalena Corral Perez, tried to hide her daughter, 15-year-old son and a poodle, but the gunmen found them. After their mother said she had no valuables, one gunman shot and wounded the dog and fled with Ayvani.
The Journal-Constitution quotes Nguyen as saying that the victims and the gunmen did not appear to know each other. He says the family moved in about a month ago.
WXIA-TV reports that drug trafficking charges against the mother were dropped shortly after she and four others were arrested in February 2012, in Henry County.
Ayvani's aunt, Suky Guerrero, told the AJC on Tuesday that family members were trying to get the money together to secure the teen's release. The newspaper confirmed the ransom demand with a law enforcement official close to the investigation who was unauthorized to speak publicly.
Guerrero took her brother, Ayvani's father, Alberto Perez, 47, to the airport in El Paso to fly to Atlanta. "My brother doesn't have a clue. He doesn't have any money like that."
Perez, she said, wanted to be by the side of his ex-wife during the ordeal.
"He was devastated, not knowing what to do," Guerrero said.
Meanwhile, friends and classmates of Ayvani held a prayer vigil late Tuesday in front of Dutchtown High School in Hampton, Ga. Many of the missing girl's friends were classmates at Dutchtown Middle School before Perez moved to attend Stockbridge High.
Friends burned candles and held signs with pictures of the missing teen.
"I don't get it," Sydney Chaquir told WXIA-TV. "It's not clicking in my mind why somebody would do this to her. It's like a dream."
A Facebook page called Please BRING Ayvani Hope Perez HOME SAFE was created to help locate Ayvani. As of Wednesday, the page had nearly 5,000 "likes."