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Police demand teen’s release

JONESBORO — Clayton County police have issued a demand for the release of a kidnapped Ellenwood teenage girl.

Lt. Marc Richards issued a statement Wednesday morning urging the men who took Ayvani Hope Perez, 14, to let her go.

“To the perpetrators of this heinous act, release Ayvani unharmed,” said Richards.

Richards said the department is being assisted in their efforts by FBI and GBI.

“The Clayton County Police Department is working in tandem with the federal and state agencies,” he said. “Our detectives are working tirelessly and diligently to bring this young woman home safely.”

Police said Perez was taken after two armed men dressed in black burst into her family’s Ellenwood home on Brookgate Drive about 2:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Police responded to the home after getting a call about a prowler, said Officer Phong Nguyen. The caller told police that the men pried open the back door and confronted the woman who lives there with her daughter and son, 15.

She was able to hide her children within the home during the break-in, said police.

Once inside, the intruders demanded money and jewelry from the mother, who told them she had none. One of the men shot the family’s barking dog, said Nguyen.

The suspects found the children and took Perez without explanation and fled the scene, said Nguyen.

A candlelight vigil was held at the Henry County school where Perez attended classes. Her classmates, friends and relatives prayed for her safe return.

Other media reports have indicated a $10,000 ransom demand has been made of the family. However, Richards said the department has issued no details on such a demand.

“We believe this information came from a family member to a media outlet,” he said. “We haven’t put out any information about a ransom.”

Police have said the act seemed random and that the family, who moved to that house about a month ago, didn’t appear to know the two men.

Richards said the joint investigation is thorough and far-reaching.

“We are using all their technique, devices and resources to bring this young girl home to her family,” he said.

Richards issued a statement of appreciation Wednesday morning from the department.

“The Clayton County Police Department would like to express its sincere appreciation for the outpouring of support we have received as we steadfastly work toward bring Ayvani home safely to her family,” he said. “Our efforts have not waned. We are committed to the task at hand.”

Richards asked the “law enforcement family” to remain vigilant and urged anyone with information to call the tip line at 770-477-3513.