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‘Help Me’ sign leads to dramatic rescue of kidnapped Texas teenager in California

According to a report by, a kidnapping incident that began in Texas ended in California, all thanks to the bravery of a 13-year-old girl and a vigilant citizen. The teenager, kidnapped in San Antonio, Texas, was eventually rescued in Long Beach, California after displaying a simple but powerful “Help Me” sign.

The ordeal began when the victim was forced into a gray Nissan Sentra by Steven Robert Sablan, 61, of Cleburne, Texas. Sablan reportedly threatened the young woman with a black handgun, warning her of harm if she refused to comply. Despite learning of her age, Sablan allegedly continued with his heinous plans, sexually assaulting the teenager numerous times during her forced trip from Texas to California.

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Their trip ended abruptly in Long Beach, California, when an observant employee at a local laundromat became suspicious of Sablan’s behavior. According to, Sablan had stopped at the laundromat and asked for directions to a local restaurant, prompting the worker to instinctively delay him.

It was then that the teenager took the opportunity to seek help. He fashioned a “Help Me” sign from a crumpled piece of paper and showed it to passers-by. A concerned citizen noticed the request and quickly called 911.

When police arrived, the girl was seen uttering the word “Help,” prompting Sablan’s quick arrest. Law enforcement discovered a black BB gun, a “Help Me” sign and a pair of handcuffs in the Sentra, further corroborating the victim’s account.

Sablan now faces charges of kidnapping and transporting a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. Additionally, at the time of the alleged kidnapping, Sablan was wanted on a robbery charge out of Fort Worth, Texas. His arraignment on the federal charges is scheduled for later this month in Los Angeles.

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