Watch CBS News

Franz Vila, 75, charged with kidnapping 5-year-old girl in Queens

Missing 5-year-old girl found safe in Queens; man taken into custody
Missing 5-year-old girl found safe in Queens; man taken into custody 01:20

NEW YORK -- There's new information on the disappearance of a 5-year-old girl from Queens

It sent police on a frantic search through Jackson Heights before she was found by good Samaritans on Tuesday. 

Franz Vila, 75, the man the child was found with, was hit with several charges. He pleaded not guilty on Thursday night and his bail was set at $275,000 cash. 

The community's initial relief to finding the missing 5-year-old girl turned into horror as they learned what happened in the hours she disappeared with Vila, a man her mother let her daughter walk away with.

"I mean, he couldn't have been that good of a friend if he sexually molested your child at 5 years old," one person said. 

"She's saying don't play with a stranger, talk to a stranger, or go with a stranger," Matteo Rodriguez said. 

"It's absolutely wrong, absolutely wrong. No mother should leave their kid with a stranger," parent Rosa Sanchez said. "I'm deeply sorry, but these are things that should not happen ... I always reminded my kids not to trust into anyone."

The nightmarish tale began at the Foodtown Supermarket on 37th Avenue Tuesday morning. 

Police said the little girl had asked her mother to go to the park, but the mother said no. For some reason, she let Vila, a man she barely knew and had only taken the bus with, take her.

The mother eventually called 911 after she was unable to get ahold of them.

Police scoured the area with K-9s and by helicopter. Nearly eight hours later, around 4:30 p.m., three good Samaritans saw the child with Vila by the Roosevelt Avenue Subway Station.

Vila was handcuffed and questioned overnight.

He is now charged with kidnapping, criminal sex act, unlawful imprisonment, and acting in manner to injure a child. He has no record or outstanding cases in Queens, and he is not on the New York state sex offender list.

Vila was irate as he left the 115 Precinct on Wednesday, telling reporters, "This is a police stunt. This is a police stunt. The public should have the right to learn. I want a full, a full interview."

The Queens District Attorney said the child's mother will not face charges.

The investigation is ongoing.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.