By Joan Trossman Bien
When the news came of the disappearance of a ten year old girl from her Northridge home in the middle of the night, there were a lot of questions. Something about this case didn’t seem right. It didn’t make any sense. As far back as I can remember, no past kidnapping bore any resemblance to this one. For all of the serial killers through the years who snatched strangers from their cars, the streets, and their homes, this abduction was odd.
So I asked Los Angeles City councilman Dennis Zine for his opinion on the story. He had been with the LAPD for 30 years. When asked if he could remember any crime that was similar to these circumstances, he said, “None that I can think of. Very unusual case.”
Here you have a girl who was taken from her own bedroom in the middle of the night by two strangers who molested her but made no ransom demand, at least none that has been publicized. They returned the girl 12 hours later, dropping her off in front of a hospital.
Another strange aspect, which could just be a bizarre and unlikely coincidence, is the girl’s family is closely related to another Southland family whose son was kidnapped. In fact, in 2008, the abductors, two brothers originally from Syria, one of whom is still a Syrian citizen, failed to return their children, three boys in all, after custodial visits. The mother of one of the abducted boys is the sister of the Northridge girl’s mother. That makes the kidnapped girl the cousin of one of the kidnapped boys.
The former wives of those brothers, along with law enforcement, searched for the kidnapped boys all over the world. Finally, two years later, the brothers and the boys were located and arrested in the Netherlands.
The brothers were extradited to the U.S. where each pleaded guilty to kidnapping. The maximum sentence for international parental kidnapping is three years. The brothers were sentenced to 27 months in federal prison. However, both brothers were released on probation only six months later. They left prison last November.
Is it possible that they had revenge for their capture on their minds?
I have no inside information. I have read about the case from the same sources that are available to everyone. This is only my personal theory about the motive for the kidnapping and who planned it. Although it is not an accusation, it appears to be the only feasible explanation. Additionally, police have gone out of their way to insist that no one in this family is connected with the kidnapping, a fact they cannot yet know with certainty. With the track record that LAPD has racked up in its lack of candor to the media and to the public over the years, I prefer to evaluate the facts that have been made public instead of blindly believing the public information officers.
The brothers have shown an absence of concern for their own families, even their own children. According to the FBI, during the two years they were on the run, they took the boys to Mexico, Central America, and Europe. They stole their sons when placed in a position of parental trust. The mother of one of the boys said that her son and his cousins are still recovering from the experience.
The aunt of the kidnapped girl told The Daily Breeze that she suspected a connection when she first heard about the disappearance of her niece. Then she retracted that statement saying that there didn’t appear to be a link. Law enforcement was also heading down that same path of connecting the convicted brothers with the kidnapping, but have publicly abandoned that theory.
This is getting really weird. Both of the suspects, one who is in custody and one who is still at large, are nearly the same age, 29 and 30, and both have extensive police records. Both have spent time in prison. It has not been established that they even knew each other before the kidnapping. Maybe they did, maybe not.
Here is my theory. Police will eventually catch up with the second suspect. During the investigation, we will all learn if the kidnapping was just a coincidence or an elaborate plot to inflict great and indelible pain on their former sister-in-law and her family.
I think the brothers hired a couple of men who have plenty of experience committing crimes. The suspects probably have no other connection to the brothers so even if they were caught, there would be nothing to lead investigators back to the brothers. I think it wouldn’t take all that much money to entice the suspects to carry out the scheme.
Too many coincidences. Too many inconsistencies with what usually occurs in a kidnapping. No ransom demand? Why even kidnap a child? Makes no sense. One of the more unusual aspects was the fact they dropped her off at a hospital, as if they were concerned about her condition. I don’t think the actual suspects cared one bit, but it makes sense that the uncle and his brother, in their own sick world of justice, would try to limit the damage done to the girl.
If this scenario is what really happened, what should be done with the brothers? In my opinion only, for the brother who is not an American citizen, I think he should be flown back to the Middle East, strapped to a parachute and shoved out of the plane over Damascus. The other one should be incarcerated for life without the possibility of parole. If they did arrange this terrible crime, they will have committed the crime of kidnapping twice.
I can’t fathom why they were released after serving a little more than 25 percent of their actual sentences. Was the early release a money saving move? If so, who makes these decisions? Did anyone even evaluate the danger posed by these brothers?
Joan Trossman Bien has been writing news most of her professional life. She started writing as an intern at KNX Newsradio and wrote as a freelancer at nearly every television station in Los Angeles. She graduated from law school in 2004. At present, she is a regular writer for cover features at the Ventura County Reporter and Pasadena Weekly. She enjoys writing about an array of topics including health care, politics, women’s issues, and social justice. Bien lives with her journalist husband in Ventura County. They have one grown daughter who is also a journalist. Bien hales from Glencoe, Ill., a small suburb outside Chicago.