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Update: 6-year-old Victoria boy found safe.

By ADVOCATE STAFF REPORT
Oct. 17, 2010 at 5:17 a.m.

Oscar Perales, 6, is home safe after it was thought that he was abducted Saturday night.

A near 14-hour search for a missing Victoria boy ended Sunday morning with praise and tears.

The child, 6-year-old Oscar Perales - who was reported missing Saturday night at 8 p.m., and assumed to be abducted by a suspect driving a dark-colored van - had wandered to a neighborhood friend's house to play video games and sleep over.

"We're so happy he's home and that he's safe," Oscar's mother Odelia Mendoza, 39, said. "We were up all night looking for him."

Victoria Police Department issued an Amber Alert Saturday night for Perales and launched an organized air and ground search party near the boy's home in the 2000 block of Levi Street.

Oscar's sister Sabrina Escalona, 19, said more than 50 friends, family and law enforcement were out all night searching for her little brother.

"At first I didn't think nothing about it and thought maybe he was at a friend's house, but then I thought it wasn't like him to not come home, so that was freaking me out," Escalona said.

Mendoza said her son was unaware that anyone was looking for him during the search, and the parent's of Oscar's friend assumed she knew her son was spending the night at their house.

"They should have at least called me and asked if he had permission to stay there," Mendoza said.

Oscar returned home Sunday morning from his friend's house and tapped on his aunt's kitchen window looking for breakfast.

"He comes over every morning because he likes my taquitos," Oscar's aunt Lydia Sanchez said. "We saw him out of the window and yelled for him, and hugged him and kissed him. And then we cried."

Victoria police are pleased with the happy ending.

"We were clearly prepared for it, and all units responded honorably," chief Bruce Ure said. "Had this been a true abduction, I don't think we could have been more prepared. They were right on the money."

Police in the last week had received reports of a driver of a van of similar description talking to children, Ure said. Police had a sense of heightened alert in this case because of those earlier reports.

"We initially believed there may have been an abduction because a witness said they saw the child talking to driver of a dark colored van," Ure said.

Police went door-to-door in their search but were unable to put the boy at the neighbor's house.

"We hit hundreds of doors that night," Ure said. "It's a 6-year-old child in a city of 70,000 people."

For little Oscar, this was a valuable lesson.

When asked if he would remember to ask permission the next time he goes to a friend's house, Oscar said, "Yes, I will."

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