The moment Aggie got taken, Detective Matt Strickland was starting his second cup of coffee after a late lunch at The Pantry – eggs over medium, rye toast, sliced tomatoes. When he set the cup down after a sip, his coffee trembled – rippled like when a small earthquake aftershock rolls through. He looked up. No one else noticed anything. He knew this was internal; an instinct he almost wished he didn’t have – it had happened twice before. He finished the coffee, paid the bill and went back to LAPD Central and waited for the call he knew would come. It did. About seven hours later, a little after nine that night. It was Donnelly, calling about a missing little girl named Aggie Day Porter and a possible abductor who said his destination was a three hour drive from the border at Tecate.
“You call San Diego?” he asked, knowing the answer.
“Yeah, but… thought we’d better get you in right away. Kid’s American.”
Shit. It didn’t matter what nationality a kid in danger was to Strickland. But it mattered to others. It mattered in the media. An American was a bigger deal.
“Where’re the parents–” he started. “Here.” San Diego Detective Rudy Canon got on the line, letting Strickland know this was not likely a familial abduction. It was the second time that year he’d talked to Strickland. This was the third kid they’d talked about. The other two were Mexican girls – six and nine. Only the six-year-old had been found… decomposing in a trash bin on a construction site near the fourth street bridge on the east side of downtown LA. No leads. No suspects. No hope.
There was a chance the other girl and now Aggie weren’t in LA but there was a good chance they were. It was becoming a popular destination for trafficking as well as the usual runaways and illegals. And at just over five hundred square miles and nine million people, it was easy to disappear there.
“I’ll need pictures.” He told Canon, “Tonight.”
“House is in Norwalk. I can get them there by one.” Canon promised.
Strickland put out a BOLO: five year old female, blond hair, forty pounds, wearing a green jacket, white tutu and jeans. Possible suspect Mexican-American male, approximately eighteen, driving a late model blue VW van. He opened a case, drank two cups of coffee, ate a vending machine Honey Bun then at midnight, he jumped on the five and headed south.