Police in Gardena, California, said Wednesday they have made an arrest in a nearly-three-week-old child abduction and sexual assault case.
KTLA News reports police arrested 36-year-old Michael David Ikeler a week after the alleged April 2 kidnapping, in which a 2-year-old girl disappeared from the backseat of her mother’s car while the vehicle was parked in a self-serve car wash.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office confirmed Ikeler had been charged with one count of a lewd act upon a child with a kidnapping allegation, and two counts of oral copulation or sexual penetration with a child 10 years old or younger.
It was not immediately clear why police waited nearly two weeks to announce his arrest.
Ikeler pleaded not guilty to the charges on April 13.
The girl’s disappearance sparked a massive manhunt.
The 2-year-old victim was found, abandoned and naked in a darkened parking, about two hours after being reported missing and about 10 miles away from the car wash, according to KABC News. She was hospitalized with unspecified injuries.
Surveillance video reportedly captured a white Nissan Altima in the alley behind the car wash around the time of the alleged abduction.
Gardena Police Lt. Steve Prendergrast said tips from the public, including one from Ikeler’s neighbor, eventually led to the suspect’s arrest.
Prendergrast said the neighbor recognized Ikeler’s white Altima as being similar to the one police had announced they were looking for. That neighbor called police on April after reportedly growing more suspicious because Ikeler had altered the vehicle.
“Some changes were made to it, the license plates were gone and the tint was removed,” Prendergrast told KTLA.
Police arrested Ikeler on April 9.
"We're very confident that he is the person that did this to this little girl," Prendergrast told KABC.
Ikeler reportedly has a criminal record in Arizona, but not for sexual assault.
He is being held on $1 million bail and due in court again on April 27.
Photo Credit: KTLA News, 2013 booking photo from Lake County, California