A teen and a woman are being called heroes after their actions helped lead to the rescue of a 2-year-old girl who was kidnapped at knife-point in Agua Dulce, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Friday.
The little girl was sitting on her grandfather’s lap Monday night at her family’s mobile home when the suspect, identified as 40-year-old Thomas Ray Dillingham, allegedly rushed in through an open door carrying a large kitchen knife, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
He demanded the little girl, yelling at the grandfather that he was “taking the baby,” a sheriff’s news release stated.
Dillingham — who had just moved to the area a week earlier — allegedly tried to stab the man before grabbing the child and fleeing the trailer with her.
The grandfather ran to a neighbor’s house for help. Carlos Rodriguez, 18, came to the door and immediately called 911, authorities said.
“He stayed on the phone and provided valuable and detailed information throughout the ordeal,” the sheriff’s department said. Rodriguez “is being dubbed a hero.”
A 43-year-old woman who also lived in the mobile home park assisted the grandfather in searching for the abducted child. Deputies also called her a “hero,” the release stated.
“Thanks to the quick actions of the neighbors, responding Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Deputies Michael Miller and David Nisenoff were able to immediately discern the suspect’s location upon arrival,” the Sheriff’s Department said in the release.
The deputies contacted Dillingham and arrested him. They searched his trailer and found the 2-year-old girl in the bedroom.
The toddler was unharmed, the release stated.
Her mother described the girl as “traumatized” over the incident.
“She doesn’t even smile that much anymore. She’s very serious now,” Crysta Jimenez said at a Friday afternoon news conference in Valencia. “I think she’s … scared, or something like that.”
Dillingham, a parolee “with an extensive criminal history,” was being held on $220,000 bail, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
He was charged Wednesday by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office with kidnapping and assault, and is scheduled to appear in Superior Court on April 12. He faces up to 30 years if convicted.
Rodriguez was given a certificate by the Sheriff’s Department during the news conference to recognize his involvement.
“I thank him so much … and all the police officers here,” Jimenez said.
KTLA’s John A. Moreno contributed to this report.
Correction: The suspect’s bail amount was incorrectly stated in a video report previously included in this post. The post has been updated.