Investigators say the man got in through an unlocked window early Monday morning and grabbed the girl. She screamed for help and was able to get away from the abductor just as her father ran outside to help her.
The father told police he saw the suspect speed away in a silver or grey BMW sedan in the alley that runs behind their house. Police Chief Dan Oates said the girl's loud struggle to escape may have saved her life.
Oates said there is no indication the family was targeted and police are treating the case as an attempted stranger abduction, a rare crime. Investigators are studying surveillance videos of businesses, searching sex offender databases and also checking on whether there have been any other similar incidents elsewhere in the Denver area.
"We think there's a predator out there. And he has to be caught, and he has to be stopped," Oates said.
He said the girl talked to the man, but he wouldn't elaborate.
The girl's grandmother, Beatrice Padilla, told The Denver Post (http://bit.ly/1auOOiB ) the girl was doing her homework in her bunk bed in her first-floor bedroom just after midnight when the suspect entered and covered the girl's mouth with his hand. She said another child was in the room but asleep at the time.
Oates said it's likely the suspect saw the light on and had been watching the girl.
Police said they had received numerous leads by midday Tuesday and urged people to continue to call in any tips.
The girl's home is in a residential neighborhood just outside Denver made up of a mix of single-family dwellings and apartments. The alley behind the house is near three apartment complexes and used by residents to access parking.
The suspect is described as a blond man, wearing a black winter jacket with a strong odor of cigarette smoke.
Neighbor Lawrence Chambers said the news was disturbing.
"I want to tell my neighbors: Protect your kids," he said.