Police: Man who ran off with 12-year-old girl arrested

Omar Castillo-Lopez being held in Duval County jail on $250,000 bond

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 12-year-old girl reported missing from her Jacksonville home Monday night has been found safe, and the man police believed she was with was arrested, authorities said Tuesday.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement tweeted a statement shortly before 12:30 p.m., saying the disappearance of the young girl was resolved.

Minutes later, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office announced Omar Castillo-Lopez, 21, was in custody.

Investigators said Castillo-Lopez called the girl's father Monday morning, saying he was in love with the girl and was leaving with her. Police were called to La Esperanza Apartments about 9 p.m. and searched throughout the night.

News4Jax spoke with Cecilia Stalnaker-Cauwenberghs, a licensed youth mental health clinician with the Youth Crisis Center, who helps at-risk youth and their families.

"It is a very scary thing for parents," Stalnaker-Cauwenberghs said. "Unfortunately, parents can't be with their children 24-7."

LINK: Youth Crisis Center

Stalnaker-Cauwenberghs said it's a wake-up call for parents who should look for red flags including:

  • Change in mood or behavior
  • Child missing school often
  • Drop in grades
  • New set of friends

"At the age of 12, children at that age are perfect victims for perpetrators that are looking for a child that may have a low self-esteem," Stalnaker-Cauwenberghs said. "They may have a troubled home life, and they are going to swoop in and save the day; build that child’s confidence level."

Castillo-Lopez was booked into the Duval County jail around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday on charges of lewd battery on a minor and interference with custody of child.

During his first appearance hearing Wednesday afternoon, a judge set Catillo-Lopez's bond at $250,000.

Know the Difference: AMBER Alert vs. Missing Child Alert

This is a missing child alert, not an AMBER alert. While both require police to determine a child’s life is in danger, an Amber Alert is issued when there is a clear indication of an abduction.

According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, there are five requirements to activate an AMBER alert:

  • The child must be under 18 years of age.
  • There must be a clear indication of an abduction.
  • The law enforcement agency's preliminary investigation must conclude that the child's life is in danger.
  • There must be a detailed description of child, abductor and/or vehicle to broadcast to the public.
  • The activation must be recommended by the local law enforcement agency of jurisdiction.

To activate a missing child alert, these four criteria must be met:

  • The child must be under 18 years of age.
  • The law enforcement agency’s preliminary investigation must conclude that the child’s life is in danger.
  • Descriptive information and a photograph of the child must be available.
  • The agency of jurisdiction must approve the issuance of the Missing Child Alert.

About the Authors:

Ashley Harding joined the Channel 4 news team in March 2013 and reports every weekday for The Morning Show.