Local police say that before checking in at the airport, Ma Jinjing split up from the group, saying that she was going to the bathroom.
Authorities say two individuals approached the girl when her tour group was visiting the World Trade Center in NY. Police say Ma then met with a middle-aged woman, who also was visiting from China.
Ma was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans and a black jacket when leaving the airport after boarding a white Infiniti SUV with a NY registration plate. Surveillance cameras captured images of the suspect helping her change clothes before the pair left the airport in a white Infiniti with NY plates.
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Around 3 p.m., the organization tweeted that, "12-year-old JinJing Ma missing from @reagan_airport in Arlington, #Virgina has been found safe!"
Alerts were put out by the National Center For Missing And Exploited Children and other groups.
The abductor was five feet tall wearing a black dress. "We don't know who she's with", Chief David Huchler of the Metro Washington Airports Authority said at a news conference before she was recovered. A witness told police he may have seen the same woman in NY meet up with the victim and hand her food. The group of students had visited various locations around the United States. Police issued an Amber Alert later Thursday afternoon. Sometime after arriving at Reagan Airport, Jingjing became separated from the group, Huchler said. Anna Demidchik of Demidchik Law Firm in Flushing, New York, said it was the girl's biological parents who picked her up at the airport Thursday.
Authorities said they believe the girl is in "extreme danger". It is unclear if the individuals from the airport are the same as the couple in New York, Huchler said. They are aware of a grandfather there but have not been able to reach him, he said.