A missing 13-year-old girl was found safe Wednesday night about an hour after a news conference on her case was held by the Los Angeles Police Department. Karina Valencia was spotted riding in a car in Sylmar by officers on patrol who decided to take a closer look when the girl ducked down upon seeing them, according to the LAPD.
“The officers thought it was odd, and possibly Karina based on her physical description,” reads an LAPD statement. “They conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle and determined that it was Karina in the passenger seat.”
The 20-year-old man driving the car was detained, although it was not clear if he would be held on suspicion of any possible violations. A police official told reporters Wednesday night that authorities believe the girl had possibly been hanging out with an additional adult male this week.
Valencia was reported missing over the weekend after she failed to return from a birthday party Saturday in Sylmar that was hosted by a friend of the girl's mother, according to police and Valencia's sister, Maria Gutierrez.
She was last seen at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. In a strange twist, a gang-related shooting happened at the party in the 14800 block of Polk Street nearly three hours later, with six people, including two children, injured by shotgun fire, according to police.
There was no connection between the drive-up attack and the missing girl, however, police said.
Authorities were concerned because Valencia was described as having been prolific on MySpace: It was possible, police said, she met an older man on the site known for making headlines when older men target girls there.
Gutierrez told the Weekly Valencia maintained two profiles on MySpace, each stating she is 16-years-old. She also said the girl was indeed known to have been seeing a man in his 20s.
“Karina appears to be well and will be reunited with her family shortly,” according to an LAPD statement.