Calysta Cordova, 9, bravely escaped her kidnapper in Colorado Springs after an 18-hour ordeal that started when she was snatched on her way home from school, authorities say.
Calysta Cordova called 911 at Circle K, defied abductor when he tried to make her leave store, police say
A battered and bruised 9-year-old Colorado girl is safe at home this weekend after bravely facing off with her kidnapper, authorities said.
"I got my fight from daddy," Calysta Cordova told KMGH 7 News on Saturday, adding that he taught her "how to stand up for myself."
The young girl was snatched while walking home from school in Colorado Springs on Thursday, police said.
Her parents knew almost immediately that something was wrong when she didn't return home on time.
"My baby girl always walks through my door at 3:21 p.m.," her father, Steven Ryno, told KMGH 7 News. "I noticed something was wrong, when she was nine minutes late."
It is believed she was kidnapped by 29-year-old Jose Humberto Garcia, police said. An Amber Alert was issued immediately.
The two headed north, authorities said, where nearly 18-hours later Garcia's truck got a flat and crashed. They then hitched a ride to a Circle K convenience store, which is where Cordova plotted her escape.
The young girl went inside and asked to use the phone, authorities said. She said she was calling her uncle, but actually dialed 911.
"She had two black eyes, a bruised lip, and a bruise on her cheek," Daniel Espinoz, who was inside the Circle K at the time, told KMGH 7 News.
"She was in bad shape," said another witness, Efrin Villapando. "The bruise on her face was enormous."
It is unclear how she received her injuries.
After she made the phone call, Garcia attempted to get her out of the store. The girl refused.
"She just said, 'No. I ain’t going nowhere. I'm waiting right here for my momma,'" Villapando told KMGH 7 News.
Garcia, who authorities said is suspected in a separate molestation case, took off before cops arrived. He was arrested hours later at a bus stop only a few miles from the store, police said.
He is being held on $250,000 bail and was charged with kidnapping and sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust, according to The Gazette in Colorado Springs.
"Thank you, God! Thank you for the media. Thank you for everybody who watched, who kept an eye out for my daughter and brought her home," Stephanie Cordova, the girl's mother, said on KMGH 7 News.
Interim Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey praised 9-year-old Cordova.
"We have a very, very brave, courageous young lady who did things to save her life, and I'm very, very proud of her," he said.