LOS ANGELES (KTLA) – A California teenager missing since January 1—who may have been held captive—was found safe, authorities with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department announced Monday. Alinka Castaneda, 16, left her family’s home in Carson, California, and was seen “entering an unknown vehicle” at 5 a.m. that day, officials with the sheriff’s department said.

Footage from a Ring doorbell camera captured an unidentified man walking toward Castaneda moments before she disappeared. While the teen’s family initially believed her disappearance may have been an attempt to run away, they later received several distressing calls from the 16-year-old.  

“In this phone call, she actually shared with her sister and her mom that she didn’t know where she was then and wouldn’t be allowed to leave. She sounded like she was under duress and stressing out,” Moses Castillo, a retired LAPD detective and a private investigator working on her case, told NewsNation.

Castillo also told News Nation that there was at least one suspected male adult kidnapper, but that there could be more. He added that the primary suspect’s name was known and had not been released. 

Alinka Angeline Castaneda in an undated photo from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office.
Alinka Angeline Castaneda is seen in undated photos from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s department described Castaneda as a “critical missing juvenile,” asked for the public’s help in locating her and said that there was “concern for her well-being.” A reward of $100,000 was offered for information leading to the teen’s safe return and for the arrest and conviction of those responsible for her disappearance.  

Authorities did not provide any details on where Castaneda was found or what condition she was in, though officials did tell NEWS10’s sister station that she has been reunited with her mother. It is unknown whether any arrests were made in connection with her disappearance.