Police Probe Girl's Reappearance

Wednesday, August 16th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — For Xiana Fairchild's anguished relatives, an 8-year-old's dramatic escape from an alleged sexual predator has brought something they haven't felt since December: hope.

Hope that there is a connection between the 8-year-old's abduction and the disappearance of 7-year-old Xiana. Hope that they may soon learn what happened to the little girl who vanished on the way to school.

``There are too many coincidences for there not to have been a link,'' said Stephanie Kahalekulu, Xiana's great-aunt, who has led a search effort to recover the Vallejo girl.

Curtis Dean Anderson, a career criminal with a long history of abusing women and girls, was charged Tuesday with kidnapping and repeatedly sexually assaulting Midsi Sanchez, 8.

In most cases, The Associated Press does not identify victims or alleged victims of sexual assault. In this case, however, the name of the girl has been widely used because of the circumstances of her abduction.

Police haven't disclosed any evidence linking the cases, but circumstantial connections have prompted officers to search every home where Anderson has lived and to reconstruct his movements since he got out of prison, said Vallejo Police Lt. JoAnn West.

``There are a lot of similarities between the two cases,'' said West. ``Right now we are sifting through items in his car and former residences to find any link between this abduction and any previous crimes.''

After getting out of prison in November, Anderson briefly drove a taxi for Vallejo City Cab, where Xiana's mother had been a night driver and her boyfriend had worked as a mechanic.

Authorities say Anderson, 39, has a record of arrests for drugs, vandalism, theft and threatening women, spanning 21 years. He has been in and out of prison 10 times in the past 14 years.

Anderson appeared with his hands and feet shackled in court as prosecutors in the Midsi Sanchez case said they would charge him with 11 crimes including kidnapping and a variety of molestation charges.

Midsi was abducted less than a block from her Vallejo home as she returned from school. She spent two nights in a beat-up car with cardboard covering the windows and trash filling the back seat.

On Saturday morning, with her abductor outside the car, Midsi seized the opportunity to rummage through a ring of keys until she found one that set her free.

Anderson's public defender, Mark Roelke, persuaded the judge to delay Anderson's formal arraignment until Friday, so he could review the charges. He declined to comment outside court.

Police said they didn't consider Anderson a suspect in Xiana's disappearance Dec. 9, even though Anderson had lived in the area, drove a cab for the same company as Xiana's mother and had just been released from prison.

``We focused initially on high-risk registered sex offenders and moved on to examine all registered sex offenders in the area,'' said West. ``If we had been aware of his background and the fact he was in Vallejo at the time, we would've looked at him. We didn't have that information.''

There are 300 registered sex offenders in Vallejo, a city of 118,000 about 30 miles northeast of San Francisco, authorities said. About 100 of them live within a mile of Xiana's house.

Police are looking into allegations that Anderson showed up at the searches for both Xiana and Midsi, volunteering to help find them. And Las Vegas police are investigating whether Anderson may have been there Oct. 20, when 7-year-old Karla Rodriguez disappeared.

Anderson gave a San Jose address when he was paroled last year after serving time for kidnapping a woman in 1991. That victim, Dina Stansbury, was tied up at gunpoint and forced to drive to Oregon. She escaped at a rest stop, and like Midsi, jumped into a truck driver's cab.

Anderson was originally paroled in August 1995, after serving roughly half his sentence, but was returned to prison four times thereafter for violating parole. In 1997, he allegedly exposed himself to two children; last April, he allegedly asked a woman at a party to have sex with him, then locked her in a room when she refused.

Prosecutors decided each time to revoke his parole and send him directly to prison, rather than seek the conviction necessary for sex offender registration under the law.

Karyn Sinunu, a prosecutor in Santa Clara County, said the children's account of the exposure didn't provide enough evidence to prosecute. ``We had a strong suspicion, but juries don't convict on strong suspicions,'' she said.

As for last April's incident, San Jose police spokesman Rubens Dalaison said the 32-year-old victim waited a month before reporting it to police and said Anderson hadn't directly threatened her.

``We said 'There's not enough here to file any charges. We'll contact parole office,''' Dalaison said, noting that violating parole is a felony, a more serious charge than anything resulting from the woman's complaint.


On the Net:

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children: http://www.ncmec.org

Missing Children Help Center: http://www.800usakids.org/pages/poster5754.htm