‘Smart cookie’: 11-yr-old who fought off alleged abductor helped catch suspect by leaving evidence

The family of the courageous young girl who fought off an alleged abductor reportedly credits the long-running TV show “Law & Order: SVU” for facilitating the suspect’s subsequent arrest after a manhunt.

The family even received a shout-out from series star Mariska Hargitay on Instagram.

“He got caught blue-handed,” Amber Bonal, the mom of daughter and “Law & Order” superfan Alyssa, 11, told local media with a smile.

Amber was referring to the fact that Alyssa was playing with “blue slime” when the alleged attempted kidnapping took place at a nearby school bus stop early Tuesday morning in Pensacola, Fla. The encounter was captured on chilling surveillance video and created national and international headlines.

Alyssa came running home and told her mom that a knife-wielding man tried to kidnap her but she managed to kick and trip him to break free.

“Mom, I had to leave some sort of evidence behind, like on ‘Law & Order SVU,'” Alyssa added, the Pensacola News Journal reported.

“We’ve watched probably every episode on Hulu. She’s a smart cookie, she thinks on her toes. She got that slime everywhere,” Amber, 30, explained about her quick-thinking daughter.

When deputies with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office arrested the suspect later Tuesday afternoon after obtaining the tag of the vehicle seen in the video leaving the scene, and staking out several locations as part of a thorough search of the area, they allegedly noticed the blue goo on his arms, along with other possible evidence.

“A man came out of the car. He had a knife in his hand. I tried running off but he grabbed me. He took me with his arm, and I was able to get him down to the ground, and I was able to get away,” the brave youngster told WKRG-TV about the incident earlier that day.



Amber normally accompanies Alyssa to the bus stop which is a mere 50 yards from their driveway, but that particular morning she was running late and had to stay home for a few minutes to change the diaper of Alyssa’s 18-month-old sister.

By coincidence, Amber recently had a conversation with her older daughter in which she told her that “if anyone ever tried to abduct you, you kick and scream and bite and yell. I don’t care if they have a knife or a gun, you get away and you find the first open door, and she said that that was what was going through her head when the man grabbed her.”

Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons described the girl as a hero and praised her for fighting the assailant and not giving up.

Alyssa, who her proud mom again described as very smart and someone who loves school, was back in the classroom the very next day in order finish the Florida Statewide Assessment testing. Next up: trauma counseling and karate lessons, Amber told the Journal.

“If she would have been taken, I could have lost her forever,” an emotional Amber Bonal said.

The suspect, Jared Paul Stanga, 30, faces attempted kidnapping and aggravated assault and battery charges and is currently being on a $1.5 million bond.  He is due back in court on June 10.

“Stanga’s defense attorney…cast doubt on whether his client is the right suspect, saying the girl was unable to select him definitively in a photo lineup,” the Journal explained.

In an Instagram message to Alyssa, Hargitay wrote, in part that “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.”


Hargitay was apparently reacting to the coverage of the story on the NBC Today show. Here’s is a portion of that coverage.


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