Identified only by her first name, Alyssa resisted the suspect who sprang from a white vehicle and tried to abduct her at knifepoint while she sat playing with “blue slime” at a grassy median that doubled as a bus stop.
The 30-year-old suspect attempted to tackle and grab Alyssa before she broke free from her would-be captor, smearing the blue slime on him in the process.
Alyssa told the “Today” show on Thursday that she had the quick presence of mind to smear the substance on the perpetrator thanks to regularly watching Hargitay’s character, Olivia Benson, on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” with her mother.
“Alyssa, first and most important, I am so relieved and grateful to know that you are safe,” Hargitay wrote on Instagram in response to the traumatic and harrowing ordeal Alyssa experienced. “And I am so honored to be part of your incredible story.”
“You are one BRAVE, Strong and Smart young woman,” the 22-year “Law & Order” veteran continued. “I think the SVU squad might have to add slime to their crimefighting gear! Take good care of yourself and each other. With all my love, your number one fan, Mariska.”
Quickly following the brazen attempted abduction, some 50 deputies and sheriffs tracked down the suspect less than eight hours later, Escambia County police said.
The suspect, Jared Paul Stanga, had allegedly painted his van in an effort to disguise it following local media reports, but still had traces of the “blue slime” on his clothes from wrestling with the West Pensacola girl, according to officials.
Mariska Hargitay called 11-year-old Florida girl Alyssa ‘brave’ and ‘smart’ for having the presence of mind to smear the ‘blue slime’ she was playing with at a bus stop on her would-be captor, who was later caught by authorities with traces of the substance on his clothing and arms. (Photo by Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
“The victim at the time of the attempted abduction was playing with blue slime,” Escambia County Sheriff Chip Simmons said at a news conference Wednesday. “The suspect, when we caught him, had blue slime all over his own arms.”
“I knew that that might be better evidence if the cops do find him,” Alyssa said on the morning program.
In a virtual hearing on Wednesday, Stanga’s defense attorney, Robert Dees, cast doubt on whether his client is the right suspect, claiming the victim couldn’t definitively select him in a photo lineup, the Pensacola News Journal reported. Dees did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Stanga has reportedly been charged with attempted kidnapping of a child under 13 and aggravated assault and battery and is being held on just over $1.5 million bond.
His “extensive” criminal past includes child sex abuse charges, according to sheriffs.