Sharon was under observation in the Austin Hospital early this morning. Police said that she would undergo a medical examination.
A police spokesman said that detectives were still looking for an abductor. He said a woman motorist had found Sharon walking along Orchard Road, Bayswater, about midnight, shortly after the girl had been dropped off there from a car driven by a man.
Sharon was reunited with her parents in hospital early this morning and police said she appeared to be bright and alert.
The husband of the woman who found the girl said that his wife, whose name has not been disclosed by police, had seen Sharon “running around in the street”, near the corner of Orchard and Armstrong roads, when she was returning from work soon after midnight.
He said it had been raining and his wife had stopped to ask the girl if she was all right. The girl had told his wife that she had been abducted, and his wife had brought her home and called the police. Police were interviewing the woman early this morning.
Police earlier reported that Sharon had apparently been abducted by a man wearing a ski mask and armed with a pistol who entered the house and tied up her parents with copper wire. They said items of the girl’s clothing had been taken from her bedroom but her glasses had been left behind.
Detective Chief Inspector Des Johnson, of the major crime squad, said police had been working on the theory that Sharon saw the gunman’s face when he removed his mask and was abducted so she could not identify him.
Detectives said they were at a loss to establish a clear motive for the abduction.
Police said the man might have decided to abduct Sharon after collecting only $35 from a wallet belonging to the Wills family.
Neighbours said Sharon was a quiet, well-behaved girl who sometimes sold them raffle tickets. She played several musical instruments, was in the Victorian Children’s Choir, and appeared on television several weeks ago.
The intruder broke into the Wills house in Hillcrest Avenue, about 5.30am. Chief Inspector Johnson said Sharon’s parents, John and Julie Wills, were woken by the man, who said he wanted money and would not harm them or their family. The man had tied their wrists with copper wire and made them lie down.
Chief Inspector Johnson said it appeared that Sharon woke when her mother screamed for the children to get out of the house. The girl apparently got out of her bunk-bed in the bedroom she shared with her three sisters at the front of the house, and was confronted by the armed man near the lounge room.
Police said that it appeared that the man took Sharon away after cutting the telephone cord with pliers he found in the house. They estimated that the man was in the house only seven or eight minutes.
The police said that Mr and Mrs Wills did not realise Sharon was missing until they freed themselves 15 minutes later, using pliers to cut the wires binding them. They had checked the children’s bedroom and discovered that Sharon was gone.
Their other daughters – a five-year-old and twins aged eight – were unharmed and are believed to have slept through the incident. Yesterday they were being cared for by neighbors, not knowing what had happened.
Police said the intruder was believed to have escaped on foot with Sharon, but might have had a vehicle parked nearby.
The search at first shifted to new housing areas and bushland near a shopping centre at Rowville, 15 kilometres south of the Wills house, when a woman driver reported seeing a girl matching Sharon’s description crouched behind a sign in Kelletts Road about 11.30am.
When police arrived, the girl had gone. The police air wing was called in while officers on foot or riding trail bikes searched market gardens, drains and nearby streets for the girl reported by the motorist.
Detectives have not yet ruled out the possibility that the abduction was prompted by a newspaper report about the family in June, after Mrs Wills and her children put out a fire started by a faulty electric blanket.
A police command centre has been set up near the house for residents who may have information.
Anyone who can help should contact Crime Stoppers on 265 5000.
The gunman was described as about 180 centimetres tall, in his late teens to early 20s, thin in build, and wearing dark-blue overalls.