FBI searches for Nebraska girl taken from mall
KEARNEY, Nebraska (CNN) -- A federal fugitive who is believed to have kidnapped a 17-year-old girl from a mall here apparently has taken her to Montana, the FBI said Wednesday.
Anthony Steven Zappa, 29, was considered "armed and dangerous," according to local authorities. He is believed to have taken Anne Sluti as she was returning to her car Friday in the parking lot of Hilltop Mall in Kearney, where she lives with her parents.
There was a struggle in the parking lot during which Sluti was forced into a stolen Chevrolet Suburban, said FBI spokesman Larry Holmquist.
Although Zappa was not charged in the case, the FBI and local police want him on seven felony warrants in the Midwest and one federal warrant. Witnesses placed the two together in several locations, Holmquist said.
Holmquist said Sluti has spoken with friends and family members by telephone several times since she was taken, a fact that authorities considered encouraging. "But there's always a concern for the person's safety," Holmquist said.
The FBI was focusing its search in western Montana, where several of the calls from Sluti were placed. One call was made from a cabin near Livingston, Montana, about 20 miles from Bozeman.
After the phone call, the pair "departed fairly quickly" from the cabin, Holmquist said. Agents searched the structure and recovered evidence.
Holmquist said the Suburban was found abandoned in Belgrade, Montana, about 30 miles west of Livingston. Authorities said that witnesses later sighted Zappa and Sluti traveling in a blue 1991 Toyota Tercel, stolen in Belgrade.
Sluti, whose father teaches at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, is a 4.0 student and is involved with her school track team and her church. She is described as 5-foot-3, with brown hair and hazel eyes.
Zappa, who also goes by the name Anthony Steven Wright, is 6 feet and 247 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes.
Originally from Minnesota, Zappa was arrested in November on seven felony warrants from Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin for possession of a machine gun, possession of a machine gun while committing a crime, burglary, felony theft, possession of stolen property, and possession of a stolen vehicle.
A federal warrant was issued after Zappa skipped bond and failed to make a scheduled court appearance.
Last month, a reported sighting of Zappa at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, led authorities to close the complex temporarily. Zappa was not found in a search of the mall.
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