Russian police are investigating the 40-year-old man who claimed he won a 10-year-old girl from her father in a game of cards.
The child was missing for 48 hours after her alleged abductor, Sergey Ponomarev, took her while she was walking to school in the remote village of Volochaevka, Russia. He then drove off in a car, all of which was witnessed by an 11-year-old boy who reported the kidnapping to his teachers.
The abduction sparked a massive hunt by police and volunteers.
The girl, Katya Bachurina, spent at least one night with Ponomarev, reports The Siberian Times. He checked into a hotel on Jan. 22 with her in Progress, a small village, telling hotel staff she was his daughter.
When he found out about the manhunt underway, he ditched his car and walked the girl through the snow before a man in a nearby village gave him shelter. Police found Ponomarev and Katya on Jan. 23.
Following his arrest, he told police that Katya was “won” after a card game with the girl’s 30-year-old father, Alexander Bachurin.
Katya's father has since been detained and questioned by police.
Officers have investigated a number of possibilities associated with the kidnapping, including the chance that Katya was to be used as a sex slave or that she could have been sold on the black market for her organs.
According to The Siberian Times, Katya was examined at a hospital and doctors have verified she wasn’t sexually assaulted. She did not have any physical injuries.
Olga Pogarskaya, Katya’s mother, said her ex-husband would not have wagered their daughter in a card game and does not believe the accusation.