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Friday, 2 August, 2002, 10:18 GMT 11:18 UK
Dramatic end to California abduction
Police show the car stolen by kidnapping suspect Roy Ratliff
The kidnapper dumped his car (left) and stole a Ford Bronco

Two teenage girls who were abducted at gunpoint in California have been rescued after police used an emergency response system to draw the public's attention to their plight.

Police shot dead their suspected abductor, who was wanted on unrelated rape charges.

The two girls were abducted in the southern Californian town of Lancaster.

The kidnapping sparked a massive manhunt.

Twelve hours later, officers acting on a tip spotted the car the man was driving and gave chase.

Public vigilance

The kidnapper, Roy Ratliff, crashed his vehicle and then ran off.

Friends of one of the victims celebrate her release
Friends of the victims were relieved
He was shot dead by police after he failed to surrender.

The case was the latest in a string of abductions in California.

It was also the first time authorities activated the so-called Amber alert emergency response system.

It was named after a nine-year-old girl who was kidnapped six years ago and later found dead.

The system relies on details of the suspect's car being relayed on radio and TV bulletins, as well as on electronic motorway signs in order to enlist the public's help in the search.

Only unveiled last week, it resulted in two sightings of the suspect's car by other motorists.

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20 Jul 02 | Americas
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