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4 Arrested in Connection With Teen Kidnap

April 25, 2006

SUFFERN, N.Y. (AP) _ Three teenagers were charged Tuesday in the alleged kidnapping-for-cash of a 13-year-old girl who was forced into the trunk of a car and later abandoned in the vehicle about a mile away, police said.

The girl, who wasn’t injured, told authorities she didn’t recognize her kidnappers, and authorities said Tuesday it still wasn’t clear why she was targeted.

``Maybe they had the mistaken idea that this was a wealthy family,″ said Detective Lt. Brad Weidel.

Charged in the kidnapping were Donald Siler, 19, of Spring Valley; his 14-year-old brother Jamahl; and Chantia Marshall, 18, also of Spring Valley. Donald Siler, who was on parole for robbery, and Marshall also were charged with robbery and grand larceny for stealing an unidentified item from the girl, Mara Downes, according to Weidel.

It was definitely a kidnapping for ransom, Weidel said, although the Downes family was never contacted. The kidnappers abandoned the car with Mara locked in the trunk ``because the heat was on,″ Weidel said. Mara did not know them, he added.

A fourth suspect, 17-year-old Mitzi Mijangos of Spring Valley, was charged with attempted burglary for a March 26 incident where she allegedly tried to get inside the Downes’ home by claiming that she needed to use the phone, Weidel said. The four also were suspects in the theft the same day of a car belonging to the Downes family.

The family lives in a leafy neighborhood of private homes in Ramapo, in the suburbs just north of New York City. Mara had just arrived home from Sacred Heart School when she was snatched from her front lawn.

Neighbor Maggay Eugene saw the girl struggling with her masked assailants and called 911.

The girl was screaming ``Help me!″ Eugene said. ``They fight with her on the grass, and then they put her in the trunk.″

Three of the suspects were arrested in their homes Monday night, questioned and then charged Tuesday morning. The fourth suspect was arrested Tuesday in Ramapo. All four were awaiting arraignment Tuesday.

Mara was reported in good physical health after her rescue about 3 1/2 hours after she was abducted. She was still locked in the trunk when police found the car in Spring Valley, about a mile away.

Weidel said Mara was ``physically OK,″ but he would not comment on what she told police or on anything said by the suspects. An Amber Alert had been issued for the car, which had been stolen from a local gas station. It was found after someone who heard the description spotted it and called 911.

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