Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021

Mariska Hargitay responds to girl who used tip from ‘SVU’ to fight off kidnapper

The bravery and quick thinking of an 11-year-old "Law & Order: SVU" fan who thwarted a kidnapping attempt has gotten the appreciation of Olivia Benson herself.

Actor Mariska Hargitay, who has played the iconic character on the NBC hit show for 22 years, wrote on Instagram that she is "honored" to have been part of a story shared on TODAY Thursday in which a Florida girl fought off a kidnapping attempt at her school bus stop on Tuesday that was captured on surveillance video.

The girl, identified by her first name, Alyssa, also had the presence of mind to wipe the blue slime that she was playing with at the bus stop on the attacker's arms, which police said allowed them to identify the suspect after apprehending him a few hours later. She told Kerry Sanders on TODAY that regularly watching "SVU" with her mother gave her the idea to smear the slime on the suspect.

"Alyssa, first and most important, I am so relieved and grateful to know that you are safe," Hargitay wrote. "And I am so honored to be part of your incredible story. You are one BRAVE, Strong and Smart young woman. I think the SVU squad might have to add slime to their crimefighting gear! Take good care of yourself and each other. With all my love, your number one fan, Mariska."

 Related:The "Law & Order: SVU" star shared a photo of herself leaving a surgery center with braces on both legs.

Police have released home surveillance video of the frightening incident that shows a white vehicle driving near the bus stop before a man jumps out and charges at Alyssa, who said he was holding a knife.

He tries to drag her back toward the car, but she fights back and both fall to the ground. The man then fled to the vehicle and sped away, but deputies apprehended him hours later with what they said was a telltale sign that he was the attacker.

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"The victim at the time of the attempted abduction was playing with blue slime," Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons said at a news conference Wednesday. "The suspect, when we caught him, had blue slime all over his own arms."

"I knew that that might be better evidence if the cops do find him," Alyssa said on TODAY.

Jared Paul Stanga, 30, has been charged with attempted kidnapping of a child under 13 and aggravated assault and battery and is being held on just over $1.5 million bond. A lawyer for Stanga declined to comment to NBC News.

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