Grainy black and white footage from Monday showed a chilling scene: a teenager seemingly kidnapped by four random men in a van.
The real story is more complicated. When New York City police requested an Amber Alert for 16-year-old Karol Sanchez on Tuesday morning, they believed she was being held hostage against her will. By the end of the day, authorities were determining whether or not to charge Sanchez after she confessed to staging her own kidnapping. The case quickly became a top trending topic on Twitter, and ignited a firestorm of theories about what actually happened. Here’s everything you need to know.
Sanchez went missing on Monday.
Fuzzy police video shows her walking down Eagle Avenue in the Bronx at 11:20 p.m. with her mother when, out of nowhere, a beige sedan stops in front of them. Two men can be seen dragging Sanchez into the vehicle. Her mom tries to get in the car before one of the men pushes her out.
Neighbor Breanna Faulkner heard the commotion and reportedly found Sanchez’s mom wailing and lying on the ground in the rain, her knees covered in dirt. “She was hysterical, she didn’t know what to do,” Faulkner told BuzzFeed. “She didn’t want to leave that spot.”
According to Faulkner, Sanchez’s mother showed her photos of them together on her phone. “I could see they were happy,” Faulkner told Buzzfeed. “They looked alike and embraced each other in the pictures, very family oriented.”
NYPD put out an Amber Alert on Tuesday morning.
It took, as The New York Times points out, 12 hours after Sanchez was taken for authorities to put out an Amber Alert. The police department’s chief of patrol, Fausto Pichardo, also asked for help from the public with a tweet: “Have you seen Karol Sanchez?” Chief Pichardo wrote Tuesday morning.
She resurfaced Tuesday afternoon.
According to CBS New York, Sanchez showed up at the spot where she was taken and turned herself into police. “She was shaken up. She was bending over, grabbing her knees, and discussing with the police. And that’s when they took her into the parking garage for questioning,” one witness told the station.
NYPD tweeted: “**UPDATE** Karol Sanchez has been located in the Bronx, she is safe and unharmed. Great work by the @NYPDnews and all of our federal partners. Thank you to everyone in the community for your assistance.”
She was brought to the 40th Precinct station house, where she admitted it was all a hoax, according to The New York Times.
Sanchez admitted to staging her own kidnapping.
But why? There’s been no official statement released by authorities. But there’s plenty of speculation. According to The New York Times, Sanchez’s family had been “contemplating a move to their native Honduras,” but she was keen to remain in the United States, a possible motive for staging the kidnapping. The newspaper also spoke with police officials who said it may have stemmed from a strained relationship with her mother.
What is the family saying?
Sanchez and her mother have not made any public comments, but before Sanchez was found, The New York Times spoke with several of her friends and extended family members. “We all know each other,” one friend Destiny David told the outlet. “We don’t know why they took her.”
“She is a very happy, calm person,” Sanchez’s aunt Idalmy Martinez said. “She’s always with her mother. They are very close. She is always around us, her family.”
Will Sanchez be charged with a crime?
According to CBS New York, NYPD wants to “talk to all involved before deciding who, if anyone, to charge.”