TAMPA (WFLA) – “Law & Order” star Mariska Hargitay is praising an 11-year-old Florida girl who fended off a suspected kidnapper using a tactic from the show.
The 11-year-old Pensacola girl said she learned the importance of evidence from her favorite TV show, the long-running detective series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” Alyssa had been attacked Tuesday as she awaited her school bus, her near-abduction captured by a neighbor’s home security camera.
As Alyssa Bonal fought the strange man who had just grabbed her by the throat, threatened her with a knife, and dragged her toward his van, she had the presence of mind to get as much of the blue slime she had been playing with on him as possible, so police could identify him.
Hargitay reposted an Instagram message from “Today” about their interview with the girl, identified as Alyssa, and her mom.
The star wrote in the caption, “Alyssa, first and most important, I am so relieved and grateful to know that you are safe.”
“And I am so honored to be part of your incredible story,” Hargitay wrote. “You are one BRAVE, Strong and Smart young woman.”
Alyssa told NBC’s “Today” show in an interview that aired Thursday. “I was able to get the slime onto his upper arm and a little bit on his lower arm..I knew that might be better evidence if the cops do find him.”
Her intuition proved right. Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons said when his detectives arrested Jared Paul Stanga late Tuesday after a massive manhunt, his arms were still streaked with blue dye.
Hargitay joked in her caption, “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.”
Stanga, 30, remained jailed Thursday on $1.5 million bond on charges of attempted kidnapping, battery and assault. His attorney, Robert Dees, questioned Stanga’s arrest during a Wednesday court hearing, saying Alyssa did not definitively pick him from a photo lineup and initially said her attacker was Hispanic. Stanga is white.
Prosecutors said the evidence against Stanga is strong. In addition to the slime, the silver bumper of his van had just been painted black — detectives during the manhunt had described the silver bumper in their bulletin to the public. They say Stanga was also seen making a purchase at a nearby convenience store minutes after the attack wearing the same clothes as the assailant, and he texted his boss saying he would be late because he had to take his child to school — even though the child is attending school online.