It’s a story parents around New England and beyond can’t stop thinking about.
Thursday, the stranger accused of taking her, 24-year-old Miguel Rodriguez, appeared in court.
He’s being held without bail, accused of abducting the girl for more than six hours.
A judge ordering a competency hearing for the Springfield man. She said she was concerned for his mental well-being, despite his lawyer’s objections.
In court documents obtained by NBC, family members have described being afraid of Rodriguez because of a mental health issue.
Springfield Police said Rodriquez was well-known to them, although they wouldn’t comment on specifics about his criminal history.
NBC Connecticut spoke with a local father who Springfield Police said helped them track the girl safely.
Benny Correa and his family were out to dinner in Springfield when he said he spotted the car described in the Amber Alert.
In a statement, the girl’s family thank Benny Correa and his wife for “putting themselves in harm’s way to make sure she wasn’t out of their sight.”
“His windows were so dark. I put my high beams on and I seen his face and when I seen his face he tried to cover his face with his jacket and that’s when we knew something was bad and then something really dark was in the back and he was pushing her down and my wife was like, ‘someone’s in the backseat,’ and I’m like, listen call 911 right now.’”
His wife streamed some of the scary moments on Facebook as they followed the car.
Springfield Police said the couple’s call was one of many public tips that helped detectives track down the suspected vehicle to the Mass Pike in Sturbridge.
Behind the wheel was Rodriquez. He pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
Video shows police rescuing the girl, who was still wearing the backpack she had on her while walking home from school more than six hours earlier.
Correa said he damaged his truck chasing the car as far as Chicopee.
“He didn’t care for his life. He put himself between two trucks,” he said of Rodriquez. “I wanted to ram my truck into the car just to stop it, but I couldn’t because my kids were in the car, my wife was in the car, I didn’t want to put anybody’s life in danger.”
As a father of five kids he knew he had to do something to help stop the suspect and save the little girl.
“Her father is not here to do whatever and I’m a father so I can do whatever, so I did whatever I had to get what I needed to get done," he said.
Correa said he and his family aren’t talking about this to get any type of credit, and he and police warned that a GoFundMe page in his family's name and the victim's name are likely scams.