Witnesses at bus stop sought

July 8, 2007 

Tacoma police want to talk with two people seen waiting at a bus stop near South 25th and J streets around the time that 12-year-old Zina Linnik disappeared Wednesday from the alley behind her house.

A witness said the two males were there before and after the girl vanished, Tacoma police spokesman Mark Fulghum said Saturday.

“They would have had a great look at the van,” Fulghum said.

So far, a description of a gray van is being called the “biggest and best lead” for the dozens of police officers, FBI agents and search-and-rescue workers who continued the search Saturday for Zina. It’s described as an older-model gray van, possibly a Toyota or a Volkswagen, with a license plate containing the numbers 1677.

Zina disappeared the evening of the Fourth of July. She was with a group of children watching fireworks in the alley, family members said. She stayed behind when the rest of the group walked down the alley to check on something. Her father, Michael Linnik, told police he heard a scream from the alley behind the family home in the 2500 block of South J Street around 9:45 p.m. He ran outside to see a van speeding away.

Anyone who knows anything about the people at the bus stop should contact the Tacoma police tip line at 253-830-6508, Fulghum said. “Hopefully these two can give us a lot of information,” he said.

In addition, police are asking people to be on the lookout for suspicious or unusual behavior. For example, the kidnapper might skip work, park a vehicle that’s normally driven, clean a vehicle, or do something else that’s not part of an ordinary routine, Fulghum said.

It’s possible that someone might know something that’ll help police, but might not realize the information is useful, he said. “We’ll work on all the leads we can,” Fulghum said.

Police canvassed the Hilltop neighborhood all day Saturday, looking for anyone with information about Zina’s whereabouts. Search-and-rescue workers scoured a broader area, looking in parks and wooded areas. Detectives came and went from the Linniks’ home. Officers were sorting through tips that kept coming in, and they were reviewing surveillance video.

Shortly after Zina disappeared, officers looked at video from convenience stores and a hospital, Fulghum said. Officers later discovered that some private residences also had surveillance cameras aimed at the streets, and they were reviewing some of that video, as well.

“We still have more tips coming in,” Fulghum said Saturday afternoon. “A couple of them are more promising.”

Zina is 4 feet 10 inches tall, weighs 80 pounds and has blond hair. She was last seen wearing her hair in a ponytail and was wearing a pink T-shirt, pink-orange-and-yellow capri pants and flip-flop sandals.

How to help

Multiple rewards totaling at least $16,000 are being offered for information in this case. Anyone with information is asked to call Tacoma police at 253-830-6508 or visit www.washingtonamberalert.com.

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