BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Saturday would have been the birthday of Patricia Alattore, a 13-year-old girl allegedly raped and killed by an online predator.

Alatorre was initially reported as a runaway but a neighbor’s cellphone camera captured her getting into a white pickup late July 1, 2020. Detectives found conversations on her Instagram account between her and a man demanding she meet him. The man, later identified as Armando Cruz, threatened to post inappropriate photos of her online, reports say.

“Its really tricky online because you can never know if they are who they say they are,” said Elvie Martinez with the Kern County Sheriff’s Office’s Crime Prevention Unit. “Someone can say that they’re one thing but they’re totally different in real life.”

Martinez said crime prevention goes hand-in-hand with awareness.

Martinez said predators want to build a relationship and trust with a person in order to gain control over them.

“Predators will send you gifts, money, talk to you and agree with everything you say to develop a relationship. Talk about anything you want and soon will tell you they like you; then they love you; then you’re their soulmate,” Martinez said.

Martinez said sometimes it takes months for that relationship to develop. She advised that parents should always be aware of what their child is doing online.

Megan’s Law requires the California Department of Justice to let the public know about sex offenders in their area. It is named after 7-year-old Megan Kanka, who was raped and killed by a known child molester who had moved across the street from the family without their knowledge.

California’s sex offender registry shows there are 1,198 registered sex offenders living in Kern County. Of those, about 71 percent live in Bakersfield.

  • Bakersfield: 852
  • Tehachapi/Mojave area: 113
  • Delano: 63
  • Lake Isabella: 63
  • Ridgecrest: 46
  • Buttonwillow: 20
  • Maricopa: 27
  • Frazier Park: 7
  • Boron: 7

You can type in your address and see if there are registered sex offenders in your area on this interactive map. The information provided through Megan’s Law is meant to be informational only. There are consequences for using the information for any other purpose than to protect.

Other signs of predators include talking about “adult” topics like sex, drugs or alcohol, Martinez said. She said predators will also try and gaslight their victims, manipulating them into thinking they have no other choice but to do what the predator says, or try and threaten the victim, the victim’s friends or family, or use blackmail tactics.

“It doesn’t always turn into that they murder you but it does turn into something that children sometimes don’t even realize that it’s turning into,” Martinez said.

Martinez said the best way to talk to your child if you suspect they are talking to someone dangerous online is to explain what could happen.

“Don’t accuse, just let them talk to you,” Martinez said. “That you can have open communication with your child, that will be best. Not that they’re getting in trouble.”

Martinez said sometimes a victim feels they have no other option or that the predator is their only resource. Here are some resources if you or a loved one is involved in an abusive relationship:

  • The Kern County Family Justice Center
  • The Alliance Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault
  • Various women’s shelters in Kern County
  • Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance Inc.
  • The District Attorney’s Victim Service office

The KCSO CPU conducts presentations with any community groups or schools that want to learn more about recognizing predators. Contact the CPU at 661-391-7559 or crimeprevention@kernsheriff.org.