Police believe this white car was involved in the kidnapping of a 2-year-old girl from a Gardena car wash. Photo courtesy Gardena Police Department.
Police believe this white car was involved in the kidnapping of a 2-year-old girl from a Gardena car wash. Photo courtesy Gardena Police Department.

A 36-year-old Torrance man was behind bars Wednesday in connection with the abduction and sexual assault of a 2-year-old girl who was taken from a Gardena car wash after wandering away from her mother.

Michael David Ikeler was arrested April 9, seven days after the girl was taken from a self-serve car wash at 14929 Western Ave., according to Gardena police Lt. Steve Prendergast.

Ikeler pleaded not guilty April 13 to a single count of lewd act on a child and two counts of oral copulation or sexual penetration with a child aged 10 or younger. The lewd act charge includes an allegation that the crime was committed during a kidnapping, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

He is due back in a Torrance courtroom April 27, when a date will be set for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for him to stand trial. Ikeler remains jailed on $1 million bail.

More than 50 volunteers, explorers and residents responded to the area of the car wash after the girl disappeared April 2 and took part in the search, Prendergast said.

Two-and-a-half hours after she was kidnapped, the girl was found in an empty parking lot near 8022 Atlantic Ave. in Cudahy. The girl was taken to a hospital by sheriff’s deputies and reunited with her family.

Gardena police received a tip April 5 that led them to Ikeler.

Prendergast said DNA linked Ikeler to the crime, and two witnesses placed him at the crime scene. He also owned a white Nissan Altima with tinted windows matching one that was seen near the car wash, the lieutenant said.

City News Service.

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