City girl, 10, found safe in Va. after Amber Alert broadcast

THE BALTIMORE SUN

A 10-year-old girl who disappeared along with her uncle from her North Baltimore home was found unharmed yesterday in Virginia after authorities broadcast an Amber Alert message along the East Coast, city police said.

The girl's uncle, 27-year-old Mark Cottman, was arrested by police in Stafford County, Va., after four motorists reported seeing a car that matched the alert heading north on Interstate 95, authorities said.

The parents of Dejavu Cottman called police yesterday morning after they discovered at 8 a.m. that she and her uncle had left the house in the 700 block of Radnor Ave. They had seen the girl in bed at 2 a.m., city police said. The family received a call from the uncle saying he was taking her to Georgia.

Working with the Maryland State Police, city police issued the Amber Alert shortly before noon. It described Dejavu as a 4-foot-5-inch, 60-pound girl riding with Cottman in a green Cadillac Seville. It said she was believed to be in extreme danger.

Sheriff's deputies in Stafford County, Va., - which is slightly less than halfway to Richmond from Washington - received three calls from motorists who spotted the car. An off-duty law enforcement officer who helped track the car also notified Virginia State Police.

Based on the calls, deputies intercepted the car near the Stafford exit off I-95, boxed it in and stopped it, said Stafford Sheriff Charles E. Jett.

The girl, who was sitting in the car's front seat, was expected to be reunited yesterday with her parents, Jett said. Cottman, of the 1600 block of McCulloh St., was being detained yesterday in Virginia. "We need to determine what charges he'll be facing and what jurisdiction it will occur in," said Officer Troy Harris, a Baltimore police spokesman.

The Amber Alert system became a federal program in 2003. It rapidly distributes information about a missing child and is named after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year-old girl from Arlington, Texas, who was kidnapped while riding her bicycle and killed.

There is a Virginia Department of Transportation message board near where Cottman was stopped, police said.

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