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, authorities said Saturday.
A Marine has reportedly been taken into custody, which is being investigated by human trafficking authorities as details and complaints about the case made their way onto social media.
The girl, who has not been identified because of her age, was reported missing from her Spring Valley home by her grandmother on June 13, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Sheriff’s officials said the grandmother told them the girl, who had run away before but always returned home quickly, had been gone since June 9.
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,” a Sheriff’s watch commander told City News Service.
The girl was not hospitalized, and it was unclear if she sustained any injuries.
Since Camp Pendleton is federal property, Naval Criminal Investigative Services is handling the investigation. The Sheriff’s department and the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force are supporting NCIS with the investigation, sheriff’s officials said.
NCIS issued a statement declining to confirm whether an investigation has begun.
“Out of respect for the investigative process, NCIS does not comment on, confirm details relating to, or confirm the existence of ongoing investigations,” officials said.
Other sources, however, including those from Camp Pendleton and family members of the girl, offered some details and allegations about the case.
Casaundra Perez, the girl’s aunt, claimed Saturday that the military is trying to “cover up” the incident.
Perez, when contacted by the media, said that her niece has learning disabilities, and was sold to a Marine for sex. The woman posted a video to TikTok in which she expressed fears about her family being retaliated against by the military or the man she believes trafficked her niece.
In addition, a July 2 Instagram post by an account called @notinregz, which posts content shared by military personnel, showed the back of an unidentified Marine in handcuffs being escorted by military police. The post connected the detention to a sex with a 13-year-old girl. The account also shared the aunt’s video, as of Friday.
The original post 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. The authenticity of the logbook could not be verified, according to sources at Los Angeles’ 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 NCIS and appropriate authorities.”
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, San Diego’s 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,” Captain 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 as of Thursday, and remains in the custody of his command.
No details about the Marine’s identity have been released.
– Staff and wire reports