Police in Washington state are investigating whether a 22-year-old in Mexico, claiming she was abducted as a child, could be a girl snatched from her hometown almost 20 years ago.
The disappearance of Sofia Juarez in February 2003, when she was four years old, shocked the community of Kennewick.
Home to 81,000 people, 220 miles east of Seattle, Kennewick launched a huge search for the little girl. But the trail went cold.
Now a TikTok video is giving investigators new hope.
Sofia Juarez disappeared from Kennewick, Washington, in February 2003, aged four
The woman, sitting in a plaza in Culiacan, Mexico, is asked by journalist Paul Sanchez, with YouTube channel Aká y Allá, how she feels about her next birthday.
‘I’m not happy about it, because I have a lot on my mind,’ she replies in Spanish, seated on a bench in Plazuela Álvaro Obregón.
‘In all honesty, I don’t like my birthday. It shocks me each time I have another one.
‘I want to say hi to my auntie and my nana.
‘And I want them to come to get me, because I’ve been kidnapped.’
Sanchez looks taken aback, and she continued: ‘Yes, they say I was kidnapped. Maybe from Italy, maybe from Japan.
‘I hope they come for me. Because in reality I don’t know where I’m from – from here, or from there.
‘And now I’m in Sinaloa.’
The unnamed woman spoke to a reporter in Culiacan, Sinaloa, about celebrating birthdays
The woman says she believes she was abducted, but has no idea where she is from
Lt. Aaron Clem, a spokesman with the Kennewick’s police department, said they were all eager to track down the woman.
‘This is one of those cases that everybody in our community knows exactly what they were doing when she went missing,’ said Clem, a 25-year veteran with the department.
He told NBC News on Friday: ‘The ultimate goal is to get her identified and have her voluntarily give us a DNA sample.
‘There is enough there that we need to do our due diligence.’
The police department about a month ago launched a website to generate interest in Sofia’s case and has received around 100 tips, Clem said.
The kidnapped girl is described on the site as ‘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,’ the website says.
‘Sofia was, and still is, loved by all who knew her.’
Clem said police are also speaking to a local witness that they deem ‘highly credible’ who saw a crying girl being led away by another person.
The girl matched Sofia’s description and the time of the alleged incident is about when Sofia went missing, Clem said.
The same witness also led police to another promising lead about a windowless, grey or light blue van from the 1970s or 80s that was parked in the area near where Sofia went missing the night of her kidnapping.
‘It would be amazing,’ said Clem, when asked what solving the case would mean.
‘It would be great for the family and great for the community.
‘Everyone is looking forward to her coming home.’