(CNS) The prime suspect in the kidnapping and sexual assault of a 10-year-old girl made his first court appearance today on 37 felony charges.
Tobias Dustin Summers, 32, was ordered to remain jailed in lieu of $19 million bail while awaiting arraignment May 2 in San Fernando Superior Court. Summers kept his head lowered throughout the brief court hearing.
Summers was arrested Wednesday in Mexico and returned to Los Angeles County, where he is charged with one count each of kidnapping a victim under 14, kidnapping to commit another crime and first-degree burglary with a person present and 34 sex-related counts.
Following up on a tip late Tuesday night, police in Mexico found Summers at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center south of Tijuana.
Summers was taken into custody Wednesday by Mexican police working with the Los Angeles Police Department and FBI, according to Lourdes Arocho of the FBI.
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck said a $25,000 reward that was "highly publicized south of the border" led to the telephone tip about Summers' whereabouts.
The police chief hailed the cooperative effort with the FBI, Mexican authorities and San Diego Police Department that led to Summers' capture. He also said he hoped the arrest sends a message.
"We could never make whole the lives of that family and the young girl after this horrific event, but we can and we will and we do make plain to anybody in this city that thinks that they can commit that kind of crime and remain free after doing so, we can make sure that they know that that is not true," Beck said. "We'll hunt you. We'll find you. You cannot hide."
Summers was charged April 3 in connection with the March 27 abduction of the girl from her bedroom in the 8000 block of Oakdale Avenue. The girl's mother discovered the girl missing around 3 a.m. when she went to check on her after hearing a commotion in the house.
Police said the girl was taken to various locations in two vehicles and was sexually assaulted before being dropped off near a Woodland Hills-area hospital that afternoon. She was comforted by a good Samaritan at a nearby coffee shop until police could be summoned.
The girl was barefoot and appeared to be wearing different clothes than those she was reported to be wearing when she disappeared.
The girl's family issued a statement today thanking the various law enforcement agencies involved in the search for Summers.
"Throughout this ordeal, they've been working around the clock hunting this man, not only for justice for our daughter, but to make sure he's unable to hurt anyone again," according to the family. "... As a family we would also like to thank everyone -- family, friends, members of our church and strangers who have offered prayers, good wishes and thoughts. We're humbled by the outpouring of affection and concern for our daughter. It's not only helped us get through the last few weeks, but our daughter as well."
Councilman Mitchell Englander, who represents Northridge, said he was angry at "this criminal, this animal who ... invaded this girl's purity." Englander said he was thankful the suspect is "behind bars and hopefully will never, ever see the light of day again."
Police said Summers, who has a lengthy rap sheet dating back to 2002, was released from custody last July as a result of the state's effort to relieve prison overcrowding.
The criminal complaint alleges that Summers has prior convictions for grand theft and petty theft dating back to December 2003.
Although he is not known to be a registered sex offender, Summers did have an arrest for battery in 2009 that involved child annoyance, police said.
On March 31, police arrested Summers' alleged accomplice, 29-year-old Daniel Martinez, who has been charged with one count each of kidnapping and first-degree burglary.
Summers, however, had remained at large. Beck announced April 5 that Summers was seen on surveillance tape crossing a foot bridge into Mexico.