How a TikTok video could solve an 18 year old mystery

·4-min read

A TikTok video has given police fresh leads in a case where a five-year-old girl was abducted in 2003.

Sofia Juarez was four-years-old when she disappeared the day before her birthday in February 2003. Her disappearance marked Washington state's first AMBER alert.

Kennewick Police said she was abducted between 8pm and 9:15pm on February 4 as she walked down the street she lived on.

"Sofia was a typical young girl who enjoyed cartoons, playing with Barbie dolls, and colouring," police said on a page dedicated to her disappearance. 

"She was shy by nature, and not prone to wander off by herself. She was very excited about her upcoming birthday."

Eighteen years later, Sofia's case remains open, however, a recent TikTok video revived the police's investigation.

Sofia Juarez disappeared in 2003, the day before her fifth birthday. Source: Kennewick Police
Sofia Juarez disappeared in 2003, the day before her fifth birthday. Source: Kennewick Police

A video which was shared last month shows a man interviewing a woman in Culiacan Sinaloa, in northwest Mexico.

The interview is in Spanish, though NBC News reported the woman being interviewed says she is 22 years old.

She reportedly claims to have been kidnapped and says if any relatives are watching the interview, they should come and get her.

She also says she does not know where she is from.

CNN reported the woman in the video says she hates birthdays.

Though Yahoo News Australia could not confirm who posted the original video, people on TikTok were remarking how similar the woman looks to Sofia when she was little.

Several people believed the woman in the video looked like Sofia. Source: TikTok
Several people believed the woman in the video looked like Sofia. Source: TikTok

Over 75 witnesses come forward after TikTok video

Kennewick Police in Washington have a page dedicated to updates in Sofia's case and on April 22, they acknowledged the TikTok video.

"We are aware of the TikTok video," police said.

"Investigation is being conducted into that. Thank you to those who sent information on that video to us. It is appreciated."

While it cannot be confirmed whether the woman in the video is Sofia, or if the woman in the video is okay, it appears the hype around the video has aided in the police's investigation.

In a later update, the police said over 75 people had come forward with tips regarding Sofia's disappearance after the video was shared.

The investigation identified a witness, who police deemed to be "highly credible".

"The witness observed a female matching Sofia’s description walking along the sidewalk on S. Washington Street near E. 15th Avenue," the update on May 5 says. 

'The observation corresponds to the approximate time that Sofia would have arrived on foot in that area. A person approached the young female and led her away as she cried."

Since the video was shared on TikTok, over 75 people have sent in tips to the police. Source: Kennewick Police
Since the video was shared on TikTok, over 75 people have sent in tips to the police. Source: Kennewick Police

Police said they have a detailed description of the person who led Sofia away that night, but were withholding it for "investigative purposes".

Police also said on the night of February 4, an occupied van was seen on a nearby street.

The van was described as being either light blue, silver or grey, an older 1970s to early 1980s model, full-sized, with no side windows.

"It had the appearance of being a work-type van, the type that contractors or painters may perhaps use. This is not to imply that it would have been a contractor or painter’s van," police said.

"Police now have a high degree of interest in this van."

In February 2021, to mark the 18th anniversary of Sofia's disappearance, Washington State Patrol’s Homeward Bound Program unveiled a truck with images of Sofia before she went missing and an image of what she may look like now.

"In other cases, the Homeward Bound Program has succeeded in generating new leads by displaying the images of missing children on semi-trailers," police said.

"These rolling billboards travel across the West Coast and into Canada and Mexico. Sofia is currently one of five children featured in the program."

Police have continued to appeal for help with Sofia Juarez's case over the years. Source: Kennewick Police
Police have continued to appeal for help with Sofia Juarez's case over the years. Source: Kennewick Police

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