When a 10-year-old neighbor told police he saw Sofia walk down her driveway and speak to a man wearing all black, police worried that someone had abducted the child. The Washington Office of Emergency Management issued its first statewide Amber Alert for Sofia, and Maria made a public plea for the return of her daughter. The FBI was called in to join the investigation, and agents arrived to help in the search.
By morning, there was still no sign of Sofia. The family spent the little girl’s birthday assisting in the search for her and praying she would be found. Hundreds of police officers, firefighters, and volunteers walked shoulder-to-shoulder through fields and rural farmland, hoping for any clue to Sofia’s whereabouts. Divers were sent into the Columbia River, located less than two miles from the Juarez home. An Army National Guard helicopter flew over vast areas using thermal imaging equipment, and search dogs were used to try to pick up Sofia’s scent. They found nothing to indicate Sofia was still in the area.
Detectives continued to canvass the neighborhood looking for anyone who saw anything suspicious. They impounded Jose’s car and asked him to come to the station for questioning. He voluntarily submitted to a polygraph examination; he passed and was eliminated as a suspect. Investigators tracked down Andres Abragan, Sofia’s dad, and questioned him. He told police he had never met Sofia and wasn’t even sure if he was actually her father, but agreed to take a polygraph. He also passed and was not considered a suspect. One by one, detectives were able to rule out all members of Sofia’s immediate family from having anything to do with her disappearance.
MEDIA - SOFIA JUAREZ: Missing from Kennewick, WA since 4 February 2003 - Age 4
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