The aunt went into the residence and was not able to locate Samantha. On top of the books left at the scene was a note which read, “You will get her back when she gets what she deserves.”
Based on the facts of the case, we had deputies, detectives and search and rescue members all respond to the scene and we immediately began a kidnapping investigation. Our detectives contacted other members of law enforcement belonging to the “Children Abduction Response Team” (CART) who responded to assist.
The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office during the course of the investigation had over 120 representatives from our office and the following agencies respond to assist with the investigation and help search for Samantha: U.S. Marshalls Office, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Mesa PD, Gilbert PD, Scottsdale PD, Phoenix PD, Peoria PD, Chandler PD, Tempe, PD, Paradise Valley PD, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Corrections, Rural Metro Fire Department, PCSO Posse and PCSO Citizens on Patrol.
The description of Samantha was released to all Arizona news entities requesting help from the public in locating her. At 1 p.m. a citizen driving in a neighborhood approximately one mile from the home located an individual who matched the description of Samantha based on a newscast they had just seen.
Deputies responded and confirmed it was in fact Samantha. She was taken to our command post at which time she was checked by Rural Metro Fire Department for injuries. After she was cleared by medical personnel she was transported to another location to be interviewed by detectives.
During the interview, her description of the events which she said occurred are contrary to the evidence.
Sheriff Paul Babeu stated, “When a child is reported kidnapped every minute counts. The response today shows how seriously public safety agencies take these types of cases. Law enforcement cannot afford to sit back and wait and see if a child who is reported kidnapped is going to return home safely. Instead we need to utilize every possible resource to find the child as soon as possible. We will continue to keep this investigation open until we are able to say with absolute certainty what occurred.”