Kidnapped autistic girl from Magnolia, TX found safe in Harlingen
POSTED: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 6:14pm
UPDATED: Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 9:40am
HARLINGEN, TX (KVEO NEWSCENTER 23) — An Amber Alert for an autistic teenage girl who was abducted from Magnolia, Texas is canceled after the girl and her kidnapper were found in Harlingen this morning.
14-year-old Elizabeth Rex was last seen on Monday at her home north of Houston.
According to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, Elizabeth has a list of mental disabilities that includes autism, down syndrome, ADHD, and bi-polar disorder. These cause her to interact on a 5 to 6-year-old level and can trigger mental breakdowns in high stress environments.
She appeared to be unharmed when she was found this morning but was taken to an area hospital for examination.
The suspect, 51-year-old Randy Johnson, was arrested by authorities and is in custody in Cameron County. His last known address was reportedly in Harlingen.
Authorities say the kidnapping was not random and that Johnson is a family friend of Elizabeth and her parents.
"Johnson was placed in custody for a kidnapping warrant that was issued for the Montgomery County area," said Lt. Brady Fitzgerald with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office. "The suspect was a family friend, he'd actually been staying at the trailer which he lived before he was kicked out by the family members there."
Johnson took Elizabeth nearly six hours from her home to a trailer located on the 15800 block of Executive Drive in Harlingen.
Neighbors who saw Johnson with the girl at the trailer yesterday say nothing looked out of the ordinary.
When police arrived this morning, they showed a photograph of Johnson to the resident who shares the same lot with the trailer to see if he was the man inside. Once she confirmed that the person in the trailer was Johnson, they asked her to knock on the trailer door.
"They told me to just knock on the door and they would get him when he would open the door, they would get him quickly," the neighbor said. "I knocked on the door and that's when they grabbed him so he would not harm the girl."
Elizabeth spent more than 12 hours with her kidnapper in the trailer. Neighbors say they saw Johnson arrive with the girl yesterday at around 3 o'clock in the afternoon.
What exactly happened inside the trailer while Johnson was with the girl remains unknown as investigators continue to look into the case.
There are reports that Johnson and Elizabeth were uncomfortably close, but authorities could not confirm any sort of relationship between the pair due to speculation.
"[Elizabeth] was taken to a hospital for evaluation purposes only," Lt. Fitzgerald explained. "Once that's completed, we should be contacted and then we will contact her parents and work on sorting out getting her home."
Neighbors at the trailer park told Newscenter 23 that they saw more than one man being taken away in hand cuffs. We are working to confirm that person's connection to this kidnapping case.