13-year-old girl found after missing report in Van Nuys area

Amy Powell Image
Monday, July 9, 2018
13-year-old girl found after missing report in Van Nuys area
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Police are looking for Michael Stewart in connection with the case of a missing Van Nuys girl who was later found.

VAN NUYS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A 13-year-old girl who was reported missing from the Van Nuys area has been found unharmed and reunited with her family, police said.

But the man she was last seen with, as well as the family's vehicle, have not been found.

Police said the girl was unharmed in any way and that she was only with the man for about two hours, then stayed away from home on her own overnight.

About two weeks ago, police say, Maria Josefa Roman, 13, befriended a local transient who gave his name as Michael Stewart in Van Nuys at a bus stop and introduced him to her mother.

He became friendly with the family and helped them with tasks around the house, police say.

On Saturday, Maria and Stewart left the home around 3 p.m. in the family's SUV to run an errand.

They were not seen for at least 24 hours afterward. Police say their phones were turned off Saturday night.

They were last seen in the area of the 16700 block of Archwood Street in Van Nuys.

Police are looking for a red 1998 Nissan Pathfinder with license 8CHH187 similar to the one pictured in connection with the case of a missing Van Nuys girl who was later found.

Police held a press conference Sunday afternoon to ask for help finding Maria and Michael Stewart.

But a short time after the press conference, they said Maria had been found, but Stewart has not been located.

The family's vehicle was also still missing. It is described as a red 1998 Nissan Pathfinder, with license plate 8CHH187.

Police said the girl was only with Stewart for about two hours and was not harmed during that time. She told detectives that she got out of the car on her own around 5 p.m. and then stayed away from home, turned her phone off and stayed at a park, according to LAPD Sgt. Dave Cueto.

At this point, the only possible criminal charges Stewart would face is for grand theft auto of the family's vehicle.

"She was with the suspect for about two hours," Cueto said. "Then after that she was on her own. There was nothing criminal at that point that involved the suspect and the 13 year old."

"At this point our detectives are satisfied with their investigation. The suspect will have to answer for the grand theft auto."

"She didn't feel threatened at all."

Police are still looking for the man who identified himself as Michael Stewart. He is described as a Hispanic male, about 45-50 years old, with brown hair, brown eyes, standing about 5 feet 7 inches tall and weighing about 180 pounds. He was last seen wearing a black shirt with gray pants and black-and-white shoes.

Anyone with information is asked to call West Valley Area Juvenile Detectives, at (818) 374-7730. They can also call LAPD at (877)LAPD-24-7 or provide anonymous information to Crime Stoppers at (800)222-TIPS.