Pearl Pinson (15) was last seen by her family members on May 25th, 2016. That morning, Pearl left her family’s Vallejo, California home shortly before 7am to walk to Jesse Bethel High School. Minutes into her walk, Pearl was violently abducted by Fernando I. Castro (19). Witnesses, including someone who recognized Castro from high school, reported seeing Castro, armed with a gun, dragging Pearl along a pedestrian walkway that crosses over Interstate 780. She was bleeding from her face and screaming for help. In the broad daylight in front of numerous witnesses, Castro forced Pearl into his car. Witnesses reported hearing a single gunshot before he drove off.
|Fernando I. Castro|
The following day, Castro was spotted driving in San Luis Obispo County. He led police on a high-speed pursuit that ended in Solvang with an exchange of gunfire, leaving him dead. Pearl was not in the car with him, but investigators found a small amount of her blood in the trunk. Additionally, a note was found with directions to Jenner, an area along the Sonoma County coast. A search for Pearl was conducted in that area, but nothing was found. Since Castro was killed during the high-speed chase, police were unable to question him about Pearl’s whereabouts. She still remains missing today.
|Fernando Castro's car during police chase|
Forensic searches of both Castro and Pearl’s cell phones reveal that the two had never communicated via text, call, or Facebook. Castro lived just a few blocks away from the Pinson’s home, and it is possible that Pearl and Castro had seen each other in passing before the abduction; however it is not believed that the two personally knew each other.
Almost a year after Pearl’s abduction, authorities announced that they believed Pearl could still be alive. The blood that was found in Castro’s trunk was apparently only a small amount—not enough to suggest that Pearl was killed while she was in Castro’s car. Certain officials have stated that they think Pearl may have been trafficked. That theory, amongst others, is still being investigated. Police are also appealing to the public for leads. If you have any information about Pearl’s disappearance/whereabouts, please call (707) 784-1963 to submit an anonymous tip.