The details of a midnight raid to rescue an abducted 17-year-old girl have been released by police in Nevada, as her 11-year-old brother described trying to fight off her gun-wielding attackers with a baseball bat.
Melissa Duran’s 21-hour kidnapping ordeal was ended at around 4.30am on Saturday after investigators tracked her and two suspects to a Las Vegas apartment complex.
She was found bound and blindfolded in a unit, Henderson Police Chief Patrick Moers said and returned to her relieved family at around 7am, scared but not physically harmed.
‘She’s happy. She’s very happy. She’s all smiles right now.’
Alejandro Sanchez-Sanchez, 25, and Cesar Sanchez, 30, both of Las Vegas, were arrested on charges of kidnapping and extortion after being found in other units, Moers said.
They remain without bail in the Henderson jail and await an initial court appearance Tuesday.
According to authorities, the suspects knocked on the door of Melissa Duran’s home in the 300 block of Esquina Drive near the intersection of Warm Springs Road and Arroyo Grande Boulevard at around 7.30am on Friday.
When Melissa answered, the pair grabbed her and carried her away.
‘I heard the door open and my other sister screaming,’ Melissa’s 11-year-old brother Kevin Duran told 8newsnow.com.
‘So I ran down stairs with a baseball bat and then I saw two guys taking my sister and dragging her on the ground.’
‘I was going to try to hit one of the guys, but he reached behind his back as if he had a gun and said don’t come closer don’t call the police.’
About half-an-hour later, the teen’s parents got a call from the kidnappers demanding $150,000 in exchange for her safe return, followed by a second call.
A statewide Amber Alert was issued shortly before 4pm on Friday for Duran.
Henderson police spokesman Keith Paul said investigators were working on a motive for the kidnapping. He declined to reveal the total amount of money involved in the ransom demands.
‘They’re looking to see if that (ransom demands) was the true motivation,’ he told The Associated Press.
Investigators said they believe the suspects had some kind of connection to her father’s landscaping business, and the possible tie is under investigation.
‘We are thankful that the quick and effective actions of the Henderson Police Department were able to reunite Melissa safely with her family,’ Moers said in a statement. ‘I would also like to praise the strength of the Duran family for assisting us throughout this horrible event.’
The family, in a statement issued through the police department, asked the news media to respect its request for privacy.
The getaway car was distinctive as it was red with a blue front end, police said, and it was captured by a security camera of a neighbor of the Duran family on Friday morning.
An Amber Alert was issued along with a description of the car, and it was later found burned east of Las Vegas.
It appears the suspects had attempted to destroy evidence by burning the car, police said, but detectives were able to trace the car to the Las Vegas apartment complex where the teenager was rescued.
Duran, a senior at Green Valley High School, was described by a friend as sweet and outgoing, the kind of person who would buy people lunches when they did not have money and resolve conflicts between feuding classmates.
‘Everyone was freaking out and sending out text messages,’ fellow Green Valley senior Mariah Wilson told the Las Vegas Sun. ‘Everyone was distraught and upset.’
Neighbor Natalie Snowbarger told KLAS-TV that her friend was not in any trouble with anyone and was working two jobs.
The 17-year-old has worked part-time for about a year at the Hot Dog on a Stick eatery at the Galleria at Sunset mall, where manager Shanna Elhard described Melissa as one of her best employees.
‘I love that girl more than anything,’ Elhard told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Recently, the senior had found a job on Craigslist selling energy drinks and recruiting people to promote the product. Her friends speculated that her disappearance may have something to do with her new line of work.