PUYALLUP, Wash. -- A girl, 7, was playing outside with other children at an apartment community Wednesday evening when she was lured into nearby woods and assaulted, police said.
She was found choked and unable to walk, but gave police enough information to arrest a neighbor boy, 14, Capt. Dalan Brokaw said.
Police are looking into the possibility that the girl may have been sexually assulted.
The girl was taken to Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma, where she was listed in serious condition Thursday evening. Puyallup Police Chief Bryan Jeter said the girl's condition has stabilized and is improving.
Family and friends had searched for about two hours before reporting the girl missing about 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Glenbrooke apartment community. Puyallup officers searched the apartment complex and brought in a tracking dog and handler from the Normandy Park Police Department.
Following a scent from a tennis shoe found on a trail, the dog led searchers into the woods where they found the girl after midnight. She had a severe injury to her neck and had to be carried out, Brokaw said.
Puyallup detectives have not been able to interview the victim yet, but they were able overnight to get from her the name of her attacker. They served a search warrant at 4:45 a.m. Thursday and arrested the teen at the apartment complex, Brokaw said. He was processed by Puyallup police before booking into the Remann Hall juvenile detention facility in Tacoma.
The victim and the boy knew each other, but police do not know how well. Investigators still do not know what the motive was or how the boy may have lured her into the woods.
"It appears he had some story about finding an injured animal in the woods to lure her away," Brokaw said.
Police said the boy was involved in an assault last week, but he was described as the victim. They would not expand on the case because of the boy's age.
Neighbor Lunder Moore said he recently told the boy to stay away from Moore's son. Moore said the boy used the "N"-word to describe Moore's son, who is African-American.
The 14-year-old is scheduled to appear in a juvenile courtroom Friday.
Prosecutors have not decided if they will make a motion to charge him as an adult.
Police had previous contact with the teen when he was a victim in an assault, he said.
KING 5's Drew Mikkelsen contributed to this report.