HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA.com) — Authorities say investigators are working around the clock in the search for a missing Orange County woman who recently moved to Northern California.
Denise Huskins was reported missing by her boyfriend who reported she was kidnapped overnight Monday from his home in Vallejo and a ransom demand was made.
“Denise is larger-than-life really. She could light up a room and do anything she put her mind to,” said Amy Mattison, Huskins’ cousin, who works at CBS2/KCAL9.
She and other family and friends described Huskins as loving, family oriented and passionate about her physical therapy career.
With no known enemies, loved ones of Huskins are having a hard time believing she’s missing and was possibly kidnapped for ransom.
“I’m terrified about what’s going on with my daughter, and I fear as we’re standing here of what could be happening to her,” said Michael Huskins, Denise’s father.
Huskins graduated from Huntington Beach High School in 2003. She went to Cal State Long Beach and worked in the Southland as a physical therapist before moving to Vallejo last summer for work.
Her father left his home in Huntington Beach for the Bay Area as soon as Vallejo police called.
Police won’t say what led them to the area around Mare Island Tuesday night but did indicate that dogs have picked up a point of interest, and dive teams are searching the bay.
The FBI is involved and officers were seen at the home where Huskins was reportedly taken.
As KCAL9’s Erica Nochlin reports, family members identified the home as that of Huskins’ boyfriend and said it was his car that was used in the kidnapping, which was later found abandoned.
The two worked together at Kaiser Permanente in Vallejo and Huskins’ family said he first reported her missing.
“My aunt, Denise’s mom, had met him and felt like he was a really nice kid from a good family,” Mattison said.
Police during a nighttime briefing wouldn’t call the man a suspect and said no one was presently in custody.
“Our primary focus is to ensure the safe return of Ms. Huskins,” Lt. Kenny Park of the Vallejo Police Department said. “If we’re withholding certain information, please understand that it’s not to be unnecessarily secretive but rather, we as a police department, we certainly don’t want to release information which may be premature or irresponsible that may jeopardize her safety or the investigation.”
Meanwhile, family members are left anxiously waiting for news.
“If she’s out there and if she’s seeing this, that we’re all here and we just want her home safe and sound and we are banding together like our family tends to do to make sure that she knows that we’re here,” Mattison said.
As Nochlin reports, dive teams are expected to keep searching through the night.