This story would be very different if it wasn't for a Jersey City man from streets where people don't snitch, who saw something, said something, and may have saved a 13-year-old girl's life. PIX 11 introduced Richard Singh, the tipster with a heart of gold, to the Massachusetts father who's now reunited with his daughter, thanks to Singh.
The teen ran away one weekend in November. She was spotted at Port Authority hours later, then, the trail went cold. After 12 days of searching, the girl's father, Tony Loftis, came on the PIX 11 Morning News to tell his tragic tale and beg people to keep their eyes open. Singh saw the interview, and something clicked. He says he saw the young girl with a neighborhood acquaintance in Jersey City two days prior. He knew he had to act, even though he felt it could backfire on him. "People feel some type of way because it's looked at as snitching but I don't look at it as snitching. I say it's a crime being done to somebody's daughter."
Cops asked Singh to go to the acquaintance's house and make sure. The detective told him the teen wore braces. He went. "She popped up, she sat next to him I said something, I forget what I said, but she smiled and that's all I needed." Singh called the detective back to confirm it was the missing teen, and within 2 hours of Loftis' TV appearance, the girl was in police custody.
Police found the runaway holed up with 45-year-old father of three, Jorge Luis Garzon. They say Garzon repeatedly raped her. They arrested him, charging him with aggravated sexual assault, child endangerment, and child abuse. Loftis says she's healing, but it'll be a long road. His first words, face-to-face with Singh? "I owe lots of people lots of stuff but nobody much more than you .we had Thanksgiving thanks to you, we have Christmas thanks to you, like all that stuff is thanks to you."
Loftis says without Singh, his daughter and his family may not have had a chance to heal. "It's still hard to think about what the future is going to be like. It's certainly different than the one we had in the past, but we have one."
Loftis wants parents to know he never saw this coming. He says he paid attention to what his daughter was doing. "Your life can just disappear and everything that you work for can disappear without warning even if you're paying attention."
He says he's forever grateful that Singh bucked the trend of keeping quiet, and instead, took action. "We had exhausted every possible thought of where she could possibly be and somebody had her and I needed somebody like Rich to step up and say I know where she is come get her."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun