Puyallup

Neighbors in shock after attack on 7-year-old Puyallup girl

Neighbors in shock after attack on 7-year-old Puyallup girl
PUYALLUP, Wash. - A 14-year-old boy now sits in juvenile detention after a 7-year-old girl was attacked in Puyallup - but police still don't know what motivated the brutal assault.

As the girl recovers at Mary Bridge Hospital in Tacoma, neighbors are in shock and praying for her - with everyone just glad she's alive.

Neighbors say the 14-year-old had been out mingling with searchers before the girl was found and before he was suspected in the attack, giving false clues that may have prolonged the search for her.

"He was saying something along the lines of she was riding a bicycle, and then we later find out she was not riding a bicycle," says Aren Holland.

Indeed, the girl had been lying out in the woods seriously injured for more than five hours before she was found. A neighbor found a shoe and a police bloodhound went straight to her.

Police say her face had been badly beaten and choked so harshly she could hardly talk. Witnesses said she was unclothed when searchers found her.

"She was conscious when she was found but unable to get out on her own," says Puyallup Police Chief Bryan Jeter. "The officers had to carry her out, but she was able to the communicate with the officers as to where she was able to identify a suspect to us. Brave young lady."

The girl was rushed to the hospital. The boy was taken in for questioning.

"It's just unimaginable to me," says neighbor Ericka Plogmann. "I can't conceive of that. So, I think he should be tried as an adult. I really do."

The horrific incident has parents wondering if their children could have been targets.

"It scared me because my daughter played all the time with her," says neighbor Angel Magia.

Now their focus is on supporting the victim and her family - as it has been from the moment she disappeared.

Neighbor Patty Nelson says, "A whole bunch of us here in the complex, said a prayer for her in a circle."

"The chaplain did a prayer with mom, and mom thanked people, but you know she was kind of numb," says another neighbor, Twyla Elrod.

The girl remains at Mary Bridge Hospital in stable condition, while the boy faces serious charges.

Police say they actually had contact with him last week - as the alleged "victim" of an assault by other boys. It's not known if there's any connection between that and what happened last night.