A missing 16-year-old girl was found after a harrowing video appeared to show her being taken from a Bronx street Monday night, but there are now questions about her apparent abduction after media reports it was staged.
Authorities released video of the incident, which they say shows Karol Sanchez walking with her mother around 11:30 p.M. Monday before several men in a beige sedan forced her into the car and drove away.
An Amber Alert was issued Tuesday, and Karol was later found in the Bronx safe and unharmed, Rodney Harrison, chief of the NYPD detectives department, announced on Twitter.
But the incident took another turn Tuesday evening when multiple news organizations, including The New York Times, New York Post, New York Daily News and CBS New York, reported the 16-year-old admitted to staging the abduction, citing unnamed police sources.
The reports capped a confusing 24 hours in which Karol gained widespread sympathy and concern on social media, only to face questions regarding the validity of the incident.
“The investigation remains ongoing,” Detective Denise Moroney, an NYPD spokesperson, said in a statement to USA TODAY on Wednesday morning.
The grainy, black-and-white footage from Monday shows a brief struggle as the girl’s mother attempts to fight back before being pushed to the ground.
Four men were believed to have been involved in the apparent kidnapping, but two men stayed in the car, police say.
However, it took over 12 hours for an Amber Alert to be issued, The New York Times reported, which drew some criticism.
“Across our country and across the Bronx, across the city, black girls in particular are disappearing, and no one seems to care,” Jumaane Williams, the city’s public advocate, told reporters, according to the Times. “We do want to know why the Amber Alert took so long.”.
Brendan Lyons, superintendent of Arlington Central School District, said Karol is a sophomore at the high school.
“We are so relieved that she has been found safe and are ready to support her and her family when she returns to school,” Lyons said in the afternoon Tuesday.
The circumstances of Karol’s return were unclear. The New York Post reported that the 16-year-old reappeared at the same intersection from which she had been last seen and approached two police officer’s squad car.
Multiple video sources online Tuesday afternoon showed her leaving the NYPD’s 40th precinct with family before getting into a car. She did not acknowledge questions from reporters.
It was not immediately clear if there were any criminal charges stemming from the incident.
Contributing: Joel Shannon, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.