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Tuesday, August 15, 2000

Laredo Morning Times

PAGE 9A

NATIONAL

Kidnapped 8-year-old girl frees self in time for her party

BY RON HARRIS Associated Press Writer VALLEJO, Calif. -- After spending two nights shackled to the front seat of a kidnapper's car, 8-year-old Midsi Sanchez finally saw her chance to make a dash for freedom and took it -- a move that police say may have saved her life. The brave effort got Midsi out of harm's way and home to Vallejo on Saturday, just in time for her birthday party where the welcome home celebration spilled into the streets. "Happy birthday, dear Midsi, happy birthday to you," sang the swelling crowd of well-wishers on her front lawn. Midsi looked on from an upstairs window with tears streaming past her smile, safely in the arms of her father, Juan Carlos Sanchez. "She is a hero; she got away. She outsmarted him," said Midsi's mother, Susana VelascoSanchez. Midsi tried to pick the lock of her leg shackles Friday with a nail file, but the tip broke off so she abandoned that plan. She spent Thursday and Friday night sleeping on the front seat of her abductor's car. Saturday morning, with her abductor outside the car, Midsi on a minor, rape and two counts of oral copulation. "She had the will to survive and she had the will to escape and she never gave up," Santa Clara Police Department spokesman Anton Morec said. "She said she thought he was going to kill her." News of Midsi's daring escape was tempered by the knowledge that another Vallejo girl, 8-yearold Xiana Fairchild, is still missing. Xiana disappeared Dec. 9 while walking to catch a bus to school. Police said Anderson may have some connection to her disappearance. Anderson was a night cab driver at City Cab around the time that Robert Turnbough, the boyfriend of Xiana's mother, worked there as a mechanic, police said. Turnbough has been questioned repeatedly by police in the case. Midsi's mother said Sunday she saw Anderson twice -- once the day her daughter disappeared and again when he volunteered to help find her. "I remembered the face, and it was him," Velasco-Sanchez said during a news conference. "He even came into my house and offered to help search. When police showed me the flier and said they had a suspect, it just hit me. I knew it was him." She told authorities she saw Anderson standing on a nearby corner the day of the abduction, smoking a cigarette. She said she saw him again the following day, when he came to the house volunteering to help search for Midsi. Anderson was released from prison on the kidnapping charge one month before Xiana vanished. He had been sentenced for abducting a woman and taking her to Oregon in 1991. ^------ On the Net: The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: http://www.ncmec.org

MIDSI SANCHEZ Escaped seized the opportunity to rummage through a ring of keys until she found one that set her free. She darted from the car, flagged a truck driver, hopped up the steps of his cab and dove through the window onto his lap. By Saturday evening Midsi was home and a suspect who was released in prison in November for a previous kidnap conviction, Curtis Dean Anderson, 39, was behind bars. Anderson was to be arraigned Tuesday on charges of kidnapping, aggravated sexual assault

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