U.S. police have fresh lead in 2003 disappearance of 4-year-old Sofia Juarez after a TikTok video
Published Saturday, May 8, 2021 9:15AM EDT
A TikTok video has led to fresh leads in the case of Sofia Juarez, who was abducted one day before her fifth birthday in 2003 as she walked near her home, according to police in Kennewick, Washington state. (Kennewick Police Department/CNN)
A TikTok video has led to fresh leads in the case of Sofia Juarez, who was abducted one day before her fifth birthday in 2003 as she walked near her home, according to police in Kennewick, Washington state.
Users of the social media app TikTok contacted Kennewick police after seeing a video featuring a young woman in Mexico that they said matched the approximate age and possibly aged appearance of Juarez.
In the video shot in Culican, Sinaloa, in March, a TikTok personality interviewed the woman in Spanish. When asked about her age, she said she is 22, and went on to say she hates birthdays. The woman then said that she'd like to speak to her family because some people have said she'd been kidnapped, and she doesn't know where she is from.
"We are aware of the TikTok video," the Kennewick police said in a statement. "Investigation is being conducted into that. Thank you to those who sent information on that video to us. It is appreciated," the police said on the webpage set up to generate new leads in the investigation.
The site includes age-progression photographs showing what Juarez might look like today.
Juarez would be 23 years old, and TikTok users say the woman in the video bears a resemblance to the missing girl.
Kennewick Police Special Investigator Al Wehner said investigators have been in touch with the personality who interviewed the woman on video. He has been helping them try to relocate the woman in Culican, Wehner said.
Wehner said he was not able to release the name of the TikTok personality at this time.
Some people claiming to be the woman's family have contacted the TikToker saying she isn't Juarez and telling him to stop publicizing the video, according to Wehner. He said he finds these calls suspicious because when Kennewick investigators tried to follow up they were unable to reach any of the callers.
"There's some very obvious similarities," Wehner said about the TikTok woman and the missing girl. Ultimately, Wehner said, investigators hope to ask the woman to do a DNA test to compare to Juarez' DNA on file.
Juarez' mother died in 2009, Wehner said, but investigators remain in close contact with the rest of her family.
On the website set up for the case, police say Juarez -- who went missing on the night of February 4, 2003 -- has never been forgotten.
"Sofia was a beacon of sunshine who had a bright and innocent life stolen from her. Her family, friends and community have lived under a dark cloud since she was taken from us. Sofia was, and still is, loved by all who knew her. Sofia will never be forgotten," the site says.
As a result of many new tips coming in on the case, police say they now have "a high degree of interest" in a light blue, silver or gray, late 1970's to early 1980's full-sized panel van with no side windows that was seen in the area around the time of Juarez' disappearance.
CNN has reached out to the TikTok personality for comment.