IRVINE (CBSLA.com) — Authorities believe a 17-month-old girl who was abducted by her father in 2013 is still somewhere in San Bernardino County.
Attorneys and students at UC Irvine School of Law’s Domestic Violence Clinic are working with authorities to find the girl they say is the daughter of an abuse victim.
The child, Aaliyah Powell, has been missing since October 2013.
Authorities allege she was abducted by her father, Brandon Powell, and believe the two are still somewhere in San Bernardino County.
KCAL9’s Stacey Butler spoke to the distraught mom, Florencia Sorto, on Friday.
It’s a story that is Only On 9.
“I need help,” said Sorto.
The child’s mother has spent seven months tirelessly posting flyers hoping someone will recognize Powell and come forward.
Officials said Powell has a history of domestic violence including a 2009 conviction for abusing the child’s mother.
“He always told me if I left him, he gonna kill me, and he would take my baby away from me,” said Sorto.
Powell may be driving either a gray Lexus 4-door sedan with California license plate number 4MBA368, or a GMC Yukon SUV with California license plate number 4TJH247.
Aaliyah is biracial: Latina and Pacific Islander. She has a mark on her forehead and upper lip. Brandon Powell is Samoan and has tattoos on his arms, legs and back.
A no-bail bench warrant was issued for his arrest for violating probation on the domestic violence conviction and an additional drug charge.
Powell allegedly took Aaliyah from Sorto’s relatives’ home in October, while Sorto was away. Authorities say Powell has no job and no permanent residence and has allegedly threatened to change the child’s name and disappear with her.
In March, UCI Law’s Domestic Violence Clinic helped Sorto obtain a temporary restraining order against Powell, in which Sorto was granted temporary legal and physical custody of the child. Brandon Powell was denied visitation.
Jane Stoever, Director of the UCI Law Domestic Violence Clinic, says “Mr. Powell perpetrated severe violence against Ms. Sorto for years, yet abducting her child has been his cruelest form of abuse. The justice system has not been able to locate Aaliyah, and we are now turning to the community for help.”
The law students have tracked Powell through his welfare and food stamp payments — even though Aaliyah’s pediatrician.
“But we need the public’s help,” Stoever told Butler.
Sorto keeps a picture of Jesus in her wallet.
“I pray every day, every hour, every minute,” she said.