KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) -- Police suspect a teen-age honor student was kidnapped by a quick and slippery fugitive, whose trail grew cold at the nation's largest mall in Minnesota last month.
Anthony Zappa, also known as Anthony Steven Wright, is the lead suspect in the kidnapping of 17-year-old Anne Sluti at a local mall parking lot Friday evening, police said.
"It's not concrete, but he's the only person we can link to this at this time," Kearney Police Chief Dan Lynch said Monday night. "We want people to be on the lookout for him and Anne. I want that little girl back home."
Zappa, who is wanted in several states for car thefts, assaults and illegal gun possession, was traced to the crime by a stolen 1987 Chevy Suburban used in the kidnapping and found abandoned in Belgrade, Mont.
The vehicle was found about 30 miles from a cabin in Livingston, Mont., where Sluti made a 911 call Sunday, police said. The call was immediately traced, but no one was in the cabin by the time authorities arrived.
Zappa, 29, was last seen Sunday outside of Livingston, Mont., near Yellowstone National Park. Police said a blue Toyota Tercel was stolen from the area.
The manhunt for Zappa, who is described as armed and dangerous, prompted police to close the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., to search the building after he was spotted there.
Police believe Zappa last week stole the Suburban used in the kidnapping from Louisiana as he has eluded authorities since November for failing to appear in a Minnesota court on a burglary charge.
"The vehicles have been the trail that we have been using to follow him. That is why he is suspected in the kidnapping," said Kathy Cable, spokeswoman for the Lakewood, Colo., Police Department, where Zappa is wanted for car theft.
Besides Sluti's call from the Montana cabin, she managed to call her family and a friend on Saturday, but those calls were cut off, Lynch said.
A special agent with the FBI in Salt Lake City says it appeared Sluti suffered some physical abuse, but police believed she was still alive. Witnesses say they saw a white man between 30 and 40 years old hit Sluti over the head and drag her into the Suburban.
The girl's parents spoke with reporters for the first time Monday and pleaded with the kidnapper to release their daughter.
"Please let Anne go," her mother, Elaine, said while standing with her husband, Don, and their son, Tom, in front of St. James Catholic Church in Kearney.
"We will do anything to have Anne home again," Mrs. Sluti said while holding a stuffed toy dog that belongs to her daughter.
Anne Sulti's purse and other belongings were found lying in the parking lot of the Hilltop Shopping Center, where her locked car also was found. The kidnapper either knew where he was going or was lucky, the local police chief said.
"Our officers were on the scene within 25 seconds after the initial call was made," Lynch said.
Sluti is an honor student at Kearney High School, where she is a pole vaulter on the school's track team. She is 5-foot-3-inches tall, weighs 118 pounds and was wearing jeans and a long-sleeved black shirt.
In addition to Colorado and Minnesota, Zappa is wanted in Louisiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.
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