UMATILLA, Fla. - A Marion County man has been arrested after deputies say he offered money to a 14-year-old girl for sex, then kidnapped her, strangled her and drove over her with his SUV when she refused.
Adrian Mendez was booked into the Marion County Jail on charges of attempted murder and kidnapping.
Deputies said they found the girl lying on the side of Wilson Parrish Road near Umatilla on Sunday night. She was airlifted to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Investigators say while she was at the hospital, she was able to pick her attacker out of a photo line-up and he was arrested at his Marion County home.
The victim says Mendez offered her $200 for sex and when she refused, Mendez grabbed her hair and pulled her into his Ford Explorer. He then strangled the victim until she lost consciousness, deputies said.
About 90 minutes later, deputies said they saw an SUV intentionally back over the girl and then sped forward, spinning the vehicle's tires on the girl's body.
"I keep seeing it in my head. How do you do that to a little girl? When you got up there you could see she was a little girl," said witness Shane Green, who says he was outside barbecuing when he heard the incident. "He was on top of her with the vehicle. And I started screaming at him. He backed up, he literally backed up and hit her again and he went to take off because he heard us screaming at him. He hit his brakes and was spinning his tires on top of that little girl."
The girl was taken to a hospital with life-threatening injuries but her condition has slightly improved.
The girl's grandmother said she wanted to ask Mendez why he would do this to her granddaughter.
"She's only 14 years old. Why?" she said. "He don't have to do that to her."
Mendez was located a short time later and arrested.
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