Couple Saves Kidnapped Girl After Following ‘Gut Instinct’ -- With Their 5 Kids in the Car

Charlotte Moccia; Benny Correa and Amanda Disley
ABC News/YouTube

For several agonizing hours, the parents of 11-year-old Charlotte Moccia were living out every parent's worst nightmare. Their little girl had been abducted by a stranger after getting off the school bus, and they had no idea where she might be. But incredibly, after an Amber Alert notified residents of Springfield, Massachusetts, a miracle happened: A couple driving 30 miles west of where Moccia disappeared spotted a vehicle that looked an awful lot like the one police were searching for -- and their quick-thinking may have saved the girl's life.

  • The Amber Alert had described a dark blue Honda Civic with tinted windows and distinctive-looking wheel rims.

    That description stuck in the couple's mind, which is why the car immediately caught their attention as it whizzed by their own vehicle January 15 in the nearby town of Brimfield. They also couldn't shake the terrifying story behind the Amber Alert, which was launched when Moccia was abducted at knifepoint by a strange man while walking home from the bus. 

    Maggie Kenney, a neighbor who witnessed the abduction, told Boston ABC affiliate WCVB that the man threw Moccia in the back seat and took off. 

    "He was screaming," Kenney recalled. "She was saying, 'Stop, put me down, stop, put me down.'"

    Later, it would be learned that the suspect allegedly threatened to kill the girl if she tried to escape or even scream. 

  • Advertisement
  • That evening, as Benny Correa and wife Amanda Disley found themselves face-to-face with the possible suspect, they felt called to action.

    "We just had a gut feeling it was the car," Disley told ABC News. The Massachusetts mom had seen the Amber Alert earlier that day on Facebook, but never imagined she'd find herself in a position to help.

    The couple were picking up dinner the night of January 15 when they saw the car drive by as their own vehicle was stopped at a stop sign, according to Western Mass News. 

    They quickly dialed 911 and compared the vehicle before them with a photo Massachusetts State Police had posted earlier online. Everything within them said they had the right man.

    "I said, 'Yo babe, that's that car ... that's that car, I seen that car, you showed me that car,'" Correa said.

  • So, with their five children still in the back of their vehicle, the couple made a snap decision: They weren't letting that car out of their sight.

    "It was just an instinct of fight or flight that kicked in," Disley told ABC.

    As the couple continued to follow the car, they were forced to pick up speed and even ran several red lights so they wouldn't lose him. While a dispatcher remained on the line, they inched closer to the vehicle to read off its license plate number, which was information the police didn't yet have. At one point during the chase, Correa told Western Mass News that he flashed his lights and pulled up alongside the car, which caused the driver to cover the side of his face with a hoodie.

    The couple eventually ran out of gas and couldn't pursue the car any longer -- but by then, authorities had luckily moved in, using a road construction site on the turnpike to slow traffic. 

  • Authorities stopped the dark blue Civic, where they quickly discovered the girl -- scared but unharmed -- in the back seat. 

    In the driver's seat was 24-year-old Miguel Rodriguez, who was quickly apprehended and hit with several charges, including aggravated kidnapping and assault by means of a dangerous weapon.

    "It was an absolute life and death situation for this little girl," Springfield Police Commissioner Cheryl Clapprood told ABC News.

    "She's an amazing little girl," added State Police Lt. Bob Ackerman. "I can't believe how strong she was dealing with this."

    Moccia was taken to a nearby hospital for a precautionary evaluation, and quickly reunited with her parents.

  • The 11-year-old's remarkable rescue is a testament to the power that social media can have in cases like these.

    "We're eternally grateful to the motorists that paid attention to the Amber Alert and called and reported seeing the vehicle," Lt. Charles Murray of the Massachusetts State Police said Thursday. "There were a number of those calls and they made this rescue possible."

    Rodriguez is being held without bail as he faces multiple charges.