Published Friday, Aug. 31, 2012 | 2:29 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012 | 1:50 a.m.
Area of kidnapping
Green Valley High School senior Mariah Wilson was in sixth-period class when she and her classmates heard the news — fellow senior Melissa Duran had been kidnapped.
She has known Duran since sixth grade. Duran, 17, is sweet and outgoing; the person who bought people lunches when they didn’t have the money and diffused conflicts with peers through coffee and conversation rather than fights. The news of her kidnapping sent a ripple of panic throughout the classroom.
“Everyone was freaking out and sending out text messages. Everyone was distraught and upset,” Wilson said. “I called Jennifer (Duran’s friend) to see if she knew anything, and Melissa, but her phone was off completely.”
This is the second incident involving a Green Valley High School student in a little over a week. On Aug. 22, GVHS senior William Mootz, 17, fell into the Pittman Wash during a heavy rainstorm and was swept away by the rush of water. His body was recovered Aug. 24. Green Valley Principal Jeff Horn said the school is hoping Duran is found safe.
“We’re all just hoping and praying that she’s home safe with her family and this comes to a safe ending for her,” Horn said.
Duran was kidnapped about 7:30 a.m. from her home on the 300 block of Esquina Drive, near the intersection of Warm Springs Road and Arroyo Grande Boulevard, Henderson Police said.
Two men knocked on the home's door and took Duran when she answered, police said. A ransom demand was made about a half-hour later in a phone call to Duran's parents, police said. Authorities indicated a second ransom call also was made to her parents.
The suspects fled from the neighborhood in a red, late model, two-door passenger car with a blue fender on the front passenger side, police said. The most recent Amber Alert, which was issued at 3:50 p.m. Friday, indicates investigators think the suspects may have fled Nevada.
"Right now it’s a really hard time," the girl's father, Alejandro Duran, said in a brief phone call Friday afternoon with the Sun. "I can’t talk right now."
Alejandro Duran said he was not up to commenting further about the situation.
Gary Heidman, 17, didn't witness the abduction, but on his walk this morning to Green Valley High School said he was passing by the Duran house when a "frantic" woman and a boy came out the front door. The woman screamed, Heidman said, to "call 911. They kidnapped my daughter."
Shanna Elhard made her way to the Esquina Drive neighborhood Friday afternoon after hearing news of her employee's abduction. Elhard, manager of Hot Dog on a Stick, said Duran had worked about the past year at the Galleria at Sunset mall eatery.
"I never thought this would happen to anyone … and not to her," a visibly shaken Elhard said.
Elhard described Duran as one of her best employees and said she last communicated with Duran last night via text messaging.
"We continue to seek her, and we sent out an Amber Alert," Henderson Police spokesman Keith Paul told reporters Friday afternoon. Paul said he was unable to release many details about the kidnapping. He did note that Duran was wearing white pants with black stripes and a yellow blouse when she was abducted.
Officials have released Duran's photo, a photo of the suspect's getaway vehicle and a neighbor's surveillance video that captured the suspect's car driving away.
Anyone who sees the girl or the suspects' car is asked to call 911 immediately. Anyone with any information is urged to call Henderson Police at 702-267-4913, or to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555.
Sun reporter Cristina Chang contributed to this story.