Family prays for missing California teen after search suspended

A car being pursued by California Highway Patrol units in connection with a statewide Amber Alert in the disappearance of a Pearl Pinson. (Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office)

The family of a missing California teen is holding out hope for her safe return even though official search efforts have stalled.

Pearl Pinson, 15, was abducted while on her way to school on Wednesday morning in Vallejo. Witnesses reported seeing a bloody girl believed to be Pinson screaming for help while being dragged across a freeway overpass by an armed man. Pinson's cell phone was found on the ground at the scene, along with blood.

Her suspected abductor, 19-year-old Fernando Castro, was killed in a gunfight with police on Thursday afternoon 300 miles south of Vallejo near Santa Barbara. Pinson's sister described Castro as an acquaintance of the victim who was often seen roaming their neighborhood, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Castro's vehicle was seen on surveillance cameras on Thursday morning in Marin County, north of Vallejo, the Associated Press reported.

An extensive search in the Willow Creek area of Sonoma Coast State Park was suspended on Saturday. Authorities did not reveal what led them to narrow the search to that location.

"Nothing was found during the search that would indicate Pearl is there," the Solano County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Sunday. "Investigators continue to follow-up on leads and any future search will depend on where those leads take us."

Friends and family attended a vigil for Pinson on the overpass where she was last seen in Vallejo on Sunday night.

"She's alive, and I know it," her sister, Rose Pinson, told NBC Bay Area. "I believe she is going to be found."

Pinson is described as 5'3" tall, 130 pounds with brown hair that was dyed green at the time of her abduction. She was last seen wearing a grey sweater, black leggings and in possession of a black and turquoise backpack.

Anyone with information regarding her whereabouts is asked to contact the Solano County Sheriff's Office at 707-784-1963.

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