Missing Washington County girl found safe, man arrested

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A missing 12-year-old has been found safe and a man has been charged with kidnapping her in Hudson Falls and bringing her to New York City.

Two Washington County Sheriff’s Office deputies left for New York Friday afternoon to pick up Malaya Johnson and bring her home. George Torres, 19, of Staten Island, was arraigned on the charges of Kidnapping in the Second Degree and Endangering the Welfare of a Child.

He pleaded not guilty and was sent to jail without bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

Torres was arrested in New York City on Thursday.

Police said Johnson was abducted around 3 p.m. on September 26 near Oak Street in Hudson Falls. She was seen getting into a red, two-door sedan Ford Mustang. 

The vehicle was located in New York City Thursday night. Johnson was not with the two individuals that were taken in for questioning. The passenger of the vehicle was later released.

Johnson’s phone was located near Sloatsburg in Rockland County.

Police believe Johnson met Torres on Facebook.

“It’s a 12-year-old girl alone in New York City,” Washington County Sheriff Jeffrey Murphy said. “As it got darker last night, and as time went on, our concern was that we weren’t gonna be able to find her.”

Murphy said she knew people in the city and was found at someone’s home.

“The family is, of course, very elated,” he said.

An AMBER Alert was issued Thursday afternoon and was canceled Friday afternoon.  The New York Police Department is also involved with the investigation.

On Friday, the NYPD said Johnson reached out to family members and stated that she had no interest in coming home.

Murphy would not get into specifics, but he credited good detective work, cooperation between agencies, and technology for finding Johnson. He also wants her case to send a strong warning.

“Not all cases turn out like this,” he said. “Dangers online are real, and parents and children alike should use this as an example of how to be safe online.”

Anyone with information is asked to call the Washington County Sheriff’s Office at (518) 747-4623.

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