Mother says missing witness safe

Dec. 24, 2009 at 7:24 PM

RICHMOND, Calif., Dec. 24 (UPI) -- A witness to a San Francisco-area gang rape who was reported missing by his family says he is at a friend's house, his mother said Thursday.

Stephanie Gutierrez of Phoenix said her son, Salvador Rodriguez, did not realize he was considered a missing person until he saw news reports, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. His family had reported him missing Dec. 16, saying he had not been seen or heard from for more than a week.

Gutierrez said she had only a brief conversation with her son, who said he is safe.

"Then my phone went dead," she said. "I didn't even get a chance to yell at him."

Rodriguez was detained briefly after the rape in October near Richmond High School but was quickly released. Six men have been charged with gang-raping a teenage girl during a homecoming dance, while others watched and even photographed the assault.

Gutierrez said Wednesday she feared for her son's safety.

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