by Andrew Kramer, Associated Press
OREGON CITY, Ore. (AP) - Federal agents said Tuesday they are virtually certain that two teen-age girls who disappeared from the same apartment complex were kidnapped, and sought public help in locating them and their abductor.
"We're looking at this as an abduction," said FBI special agent in charge Charles Mathews.
Fearing there could be another kidnapping, some residents of the apartment complex said they were moving out.
The FBI sought information about anyone with an abnormal interest in children who has acted nervous in recent weeks, who has unexplained cuts or scratches on their hands, or may have missed work on the days the girls disappeared.
Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis, both 13, lived in the Newell Creek Village Apartments. They both attended Gardiner Middle School and were teammates on the school dance team.
Ashley disappeared on Jan. 9 and Miranda vanished on Friday.
Miranda's mother, Michelle Duffey, has been posting fliers carrying pictures of her daughter.
Her three-bedroom apartment was strewn with packages of muffins and other food on Tuesday, showing the wear of an around-the-clock vigil with relatives.
"I just want her to come home," said Duffey, signs of fatigue showing under her eyes.
On Friday, Duffey went to her job as an office manager at an engineering company at 7:30 a.m, leaving Miranda still in a bathrobe, eating breakfast. She was to catch her school bus at 8:05 a.m.
Police first weighed the possibility that Ashley had run away. But she took no clothes or makeup with her, and had not called any girlfriends or relatives as the weeks ticked away.
Authorities also considered the possibility that Miranda had run away. She also did not take any spare clothes or makeup.
The apartment compound, which opened in 1997, borders a forest and Newell Creek. A ribbon of new asphalt loops through the two courts and past a new, plastic jungle gym and play area.
Some residents of the Newell Creek Village apartments aren't waiting to find out what happened to the two girls and are planning to move.
"We have a little baby. We don't want to wait to find out," Hannah Gonzales said.
She spoke while taking a break from carting a tricycle and other toys into a moving van parked in the street.
Another resident, John Buck, was walking around with a long-barreled pistol in a leather holster under his arm. He said he has sent his girls to live in Washington with relatives, and plans to move to Colorado.
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"They just fell off the face of the Earth," Buck said of Ashley and Miranda, who used to play with his daughter.