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Schoolgirl Abducted in NYC Suburb Found

April 25, 2006

RAMAPO, N.Y. (AP) _ A 13-year-old girl was abducted by three masked assailants and forced screaming into the trunk of a car just after she got off the school bus Monday afternoon, police said.

The girl was found within hours, apparently unharmed, in a wooded area about a mile away. She was still locked in the trunk and alone in the car.

Mara Downes was ``physically OK″ when she was freed, said Detective Lt. Brad Weidel. She was reunited with her parents and taken to a nearby hospital.

Weidel would not comment on what the girl told police.

Officers were searching the woods for the abductors, who wore black masks. The assailants were believed to be three men or two men and a woman in their late teens or early 20s.

An Amber Alert had been issued for the car, a Toyota Camry that had been stolen from a local gas station, and police were called by someone who heard the description.

The girl was snatched at about 3 p.m. just after she got off the school bus in front of her house in suburban Rockland County, just north of New York City, police and a witness said.

Weidel said there was no information on why the girl was targeted.

Police removed a computer from the house, but Weidel said there was no indication the girl had met the abductors online.

Neighbor Maggay Eugene said she saw the struggle. ``They fight with her on the grass, and then they put her in the trunk,″ she said.

The girl was screaming ``Help me!″ Eugene said.

The neighbor said she shouted to the girl’s mother and called 911. Police said the girl’s father arrived home afterward.

Police and county sheriff’s cars filled the streets after the abduction, and neighbors milled on the sidewalks.

``It’s shocking,″ Cheryl Louissaint said. ``We’re a nervous wreck. I have three small children. It’s appalling.″

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