Abducted teen seen in South Lake | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Abducted teen seen in South Lake

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

A 14-year-old girl who has been missing since the first of the month has been spotted in South Lake Tahoe.

An Amber Alert triggered Thursday continued through the weekend on road condition signs to alert South Shore motorists to look for a car with the abducted Michigan girl inside.

Lindsey Ryan, 14, and convicted murderer Terry Drake, 56, were believed spotted in South Lake Tahoe heading east several days ago, the FBI said.

An attendant at Beacon Gas Station at 2304 Lake Tahoe Blvd. believes she saw the pair Wednesday evening. She didn’t recognize the significance until Friday night, when she heard a description of the missing pair and called the South Lake Tahoe Police Department.

Investigators spent Saturday reviewing a surveillance tape before announcing what they called a “probable” sighting of the two.

“The clerk seemed certain the persons who came into the store were the same persons in the photo,” said police Sgt. Cameron Carmichael, after authorities showed the clerk a picture of the two.

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Officials alerted Nevada authorities the pair appeared to be heading there, said FBI spokesman Nick Rossi. But with several days gone by, he said Ryan and Drake could be anywhere.

“We have searched the town and we have found no further sightings,” SLTPD Sgt. Terry Daniels said.

The tape wasn’t clear enough to show a license plate or other details, but the tape and a description from station attendant Jan Mickelson were enough for investigators to believe it is the second of two confirmed California sightings.

The other sighting was earlier Wednesday at a hotel in Grass Valley. At that point, the man believed to be Drake said he planned to camp along the Yuba River in Downieville, about 30 miles north of Grass Valley.

Mickelson told authorities a tattooed man and a girl with braces and obviously dyed-black hair came into her Beacon station along Highway 50 about 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The pair purchased $20 worth of gasoline and a pack of cigarettes, and then drove east in a white pickup.

The pair is believed to be traveling in a 1995 white Dodge Dakota extended cab with Indiana license plate 406211A.

“The girl she saw did not appear to be under duress,” Rossi said. However, “we remain concerned about the ability of a 14-year-old girl to resist the manipulation of a 56-year-old man who has killed before.”

Because Drake is believed to be equipped with several firearms, “this situation involves a risk of serious danger to Lindsey and anyone who confronts Drake,” Rossi said. He encouraged anyone who believes they have spotted the pair to call authorities.

California Highway Patrol Sgt. Sean Patton said the pair was spotted in Tahoe City on Friday morning then believed to be seen in Carson Valley. The Carson Valley sighting didn’t pan out, along with two vehicle stops Thursday night in South Lake Tahoe.

The pair has now been missing for more than a week and has been the subject of a California Amber Alert since Thursday.

The alerts were posted on road condition signs throughout South Shore, including highways 50 and 89.

“That’s the unique thing about this system,” Patton said. “It can be adjusted to where we think the person might be traveling.”

The highway overhead signs provide a vehicle description and a number to reach the CHP during Amber Alerts.

Amber is an acronym for America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response. It started in Texas after the 1996 kidnapping and murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman. The alert system, which can utilize about 500 highway message signs in California, was instituted in the state last summer.

Drake pleaded guilty to the 1977 kidnapping and murder of Linda Kearschner. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison, but was released in 1993.

Ryan, of Jones, Mich., was discovered missing March 1 by her parents. Authorities there said they believe she left voluntarily with Drake, but issued a warrant for Drake’s arrest on a felony charge of child endangerment.

Witnesses reported seeing them several times in Wyoming and near the Utah-Nevada border.

At a news conference Tuesday in Cassopolis, Mich., Lindsey’s mother, Carol Ryan, said her daughter met Drake at a small church that the family attended in Goshen. The man and the girl communicated over the Internet, police said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.