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Missing 14-Year-Old Girl Found by US Military Police at Camp Pendleton

Missing 14-Year-Old Girl Found by US Military Police at Camp Pendleton

The entrance to Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton is seen in Oceanside, Calif., on Sept. 22, 2015. (Gregory Bull/AP Photo)

City News Service

City News Service

7/10/2023

Updated: 7/10/2023

A marine was reportedly detained and questioned after a 14-year-old girl—who was reported missing from her Spring Valley home last month—is back home after she was found at Camp Pendleton Marine Base, authorities said on July 8.
Casaundra Perez, the aunt of the 14-year-old girl reported missing and found at Camp Pendleton, claims that the military is trying to “cover-up” the incident.
An Instagram post by an account called @notinregz, which posts content shared by military personnel, showed an unidentified Marine in handcuffs being escorted by military police.
The post also included what was said to be a handwritten logbook from Camp Pendleton that mentions the discovery of the girl on the base on June 28, however, the authenticity of the logbook could not be verified, according to sources at KTLA5.
“This command takes this matter and all allegations very seriously,” said a Marine spokesperson. “The incident is under investigation, and we will continue to cooperate with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and appropriate authorities.”
The girl, who has not been identified because of her age, was reported missing from her Spring Valley home last month by her grandmother on June 13, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department (SDSD).
Sheriff’s officials said the grandmother told them the girl, who had run away before but always returned home quickly, went missing on June 9. The case is being investigated by human trafficking authorities.
The teen’s information was entered into multiple missing person databases, including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Military police at Camp Pendleton located the girl on June 28 and informed the sheriff’s department. Detectives interviewed her and the family was offered services, authorities said.
“When a minor runs away, there is usually an underlining of trauma associated. Free counseling and social service programs to help the girl and her family to deal with trauma and personal issues are being offered,” Lt. Carpenter, a watch commander for the SDSD, told City News Service.
The girl was not hospitalized, but it was unclear if she sustained any injuries.
Since Camp Pendleton is federal property, Naval Criminal Investigative Services (NCIS) is handling the investigation. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department and the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force are supporting NCIS with the investigation, sheriff’s officials said.
On June 28, a Marine was taken into custody by military police on the base and questioned by NCIS personnel about his involvement with the girl, NBC7 reported.
“We can confirm that a Marine with Combat Logistics Battalion 5, 1st Marine Logistics Group was taken into custody for questioning by Naval Criminal Investigative Services on June 28, 2023, as seen on social media July 2, 2023,” Capt. Chuck Palmer of Camp Pendleton-based 1st Marine Logistics Group told the station.
He added that the Marine—who has not been identified—had not been charged and remains in the custody of his command as of July 6.
Ms. Perez told the station that her niece has learning disabilities, and was sold to a Marine for sex. Perez posted a video on TikTok in which she said her family was afraid of retaliation from the military and from the man she believed trafficked the girl.
“The military is trying to cover it up and place majority of the blame on her. ... The security looked her in the face and allowed this man to bring a minor onto base where he then proceeded to have sex with her,” Ms. Perez said in one of several TikTok videos she posted last week. “Due to her age, she couldn’t have given consent.”
“We’ve just had an interview with someone referred to us by the military. In this meeting, we were told by the affiliated personnel that the military detective assigned to the case is trying to cover this up,” she said.
Ms. Perez identified her niece as Native American and explained the girl’s guardian, her grandmother, is currently battling cancer, and the girl’s disabilities do not warrant a 24-hour watch.
“Out of respect for the investigative process, NCIS does not comment on, confirm details relating to, or confirm the existence of ongoing investigations,” the agency said in a statement.
No identities have been released as the case remains under investigation, and it is unknown whether the Marine taken into custody has been released.
Julianne Foster contributed to this report.
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