Details of Disappearance
Pearl was last seen in Vallejo, California on May 25, 2016. She was walking to the school bus stop, shortly before 7:00 a.m. when a witness saw an armed Hispanic man (later identified as 19-year-old Fernando Castro) dragging her across a pedestrian overpass along Interstate 780 near Taylor Avenue.
Pearl's face was bloody, she was screaming for help, and the witness heard at least one shot. The witness called 911. When the authorities arrived, they found a bloodstain and Pearl's cell phone on the overpass, but there was no sign of Pearl or her abductor.
A photo of Castro is posted below this case summary. He had a minor criminal history, but not for crimes involving stalking or kidnapping, and his family was reportedly "blindsided" when they found out what he had done.
Some reports state that he was an acquaintance of Pearl's, possibly her boyfriend. However, he was not Pearl's boyfriend and she apparently didn't know him at all; investigators could find no evidence of any prior contact between them, either in person or through social media.
Castro was sighted driving his gold four-door 1997 Saturn in the area of the Sir Francis Drake Boulevard near the San Rafael Bridge in Marin County, California at 9:30 a.m., two and a half hours after Pearl's abduction. Photos of the car are posted with this case summary. It had the license plate number 5XZD385.
The following afternoon, Castro was sighted driving in San Luis Obispo County, California. Officers with the California Highway Patrol and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office chased his vehicle into Santa Barbara County.
There was a shootout between police and Castro, and Castro was killed. Pearl wasn't with him at the time of his death and she has never been heard from again.
Castro was killed more than 300 miles south from where Pearl was taken. When police searched his car they found Pearl's blood in the trunk, but they said it was not a large amount, not enough to indicate she'd been seriously injured or killed.
Although there was speculation that Pearl was the victim of sex trafficking, investigators could find no evidence to support the theory and no evidence that anyone other than Castro was involved in her disappearance. They stated they weren't sure whether she was dead or alive, but that the passage of time made it less likely that she was still alive.
Pearl is the second of three children in her family and enjoys skateboarding, going to the beach and other outdoor pursuits. Her whereabouts are unknown and her case remains unsolved.