Updates on Sofia's Investigation
Update on the TikTok video:
Thank you to those who sent the 50 tips on the TikTok video posted under “akayalla”. We also extend our thanks to TikTok personality “ozzbala” (TikTok user name) / “ozz” (YouTube user name) for his cooperation during the investigation.
As noted in the comment sections of the posts, the female in the TikTok videos is currently in a rehabilitation center. We have been in touch with alleged family members who claim she is the person depicted in the videos. They deny she is Sofia, and seek privacy in handling a family matter. We will continue investigation to confirm 1) She is the person in the videos, 2) Inquire about her claims of having been kidnapped, and 3) Verify she is not Sofia through DNA comparison.
New: Suspect description released:
As previously noted, a witness observed a female matching Sofia’s description walking along the sidewalk on S. Washington Street near E. 15th Avenue. The observation corresponds to the approximate time that Sofia would have arrived on foot in that area. A person approached the young female.
The witness observed the person, described in detail below, approach the young female and lead her away towards a van that was occupied and stopped at the next side street. Sofia cried as the person laughed.
The adult witness reported the incident to police the next day, immediately after seeing media accounts of Sofia’s disappearance. After viewing a photograph of Sofia, the witness confirmed the young female was Sofia. Police determined the witness to be highly credible.
Police kept the suspect description confidential at the time due to active investigations being conducted on people of interest. A description of the van was released at the time, resulting in 24 tips reported to police.
After a recent complete and thorough review of Sofia’s case, based upon available information at this time and with the benefit of 18-years of investigation into this case, police believe the witness observed the initial stages of Sofia’s abduction. Police currently believe the van and its occupant(s) may be associated with the suspect who led Sofia away.
Police obviously have a very high degree of interest in the suspect and the suspect van. Anybody who has any information on a person and van seen in the area of S. Washington Street near E. 15th Avenue between 8:00 pm and 9:15 pm on February 4, 2003 is asked to contact police. Police are also seeking information from the public on anybody who may have operated a similar type van and either lived nearby, would have passed through the area at that time, or driven by as part of their regular route or routine.
Police are interested in any information people may have, regardless of how minimal it might be. Somebody out there knows what happened to Sofia, or at least have suspicions about someone that may have been involved. Now is the time to come forward and help bring answers to Sofia’s family and our community.
Suspect Description (as provided by witness): Hispanic juvenile male. Estimated to be 11 to 14 years old at the time (now about 29-32 years of age). At the time of occurrence, described as being light complexioned, about 5-00 to 5-02, believed to be “chubby” based primarily upon facial features, having a “baby face” with a possible mark on a cheek, dark short wavy hair about 1.5 inches long that appeared greased that lay flat with bangs, and possibly having big hands for a person his age.
Suspect Vehicle: Light blue or silver (or gray) older 1970’s to early 1980’s type full-sized panel van with no side windows. Had appearances of possibly being a work-type van, the type that contractors or painters may have used. This is not to imply that it would have been a contractor or painter’s van.
New: Reward offered
A Kennewick couple has very generously offered a $10,000.00 reward for information leading to the discovery of Sofia’s whereabouts. The husband and wife, both of whom request anonymity, were touched by Sofia’s story and would like to do everything they can to help bring resolution for her family.