She was found choked and unable to walk, but gave police enough information to arrest a 14-year-old neighbor boy, Capt. Dalan Brokaw said.
The girl was taken to Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma in serious condition and is expected to survive, Brokaw said.
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 at the beginning of a wooded trail, the dog led searchers 100 yards deep 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.
April Jones was driving by and noticed an officer bringing a little girl out from the woods.
"He brought her out and she was completely unconscious," said April Jones. "He laid her on the ground and that's when the EMTs and everybody came around. The image is still clear in my mind and it just scared me. And she had no clothes on or anything so it was a real unpleasant sight for a mother to see."
The girl gave officers information to identify a suspect, who neighbors said was actually still there mingling with others and giving false clues as police conducted their search.
"He was actually out here earlier and we talked to him," said Aren Holland.
"He was just bringing it up; he kept talking to us," added Cody Gravette. "Just bringing up little details at a time."
Officers 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. Police said the boy's family is cooperating with investigators.
"It appears he had some story about finding an injured animal in the woods to lure her away," Brokaw said.
Police had previous contact with the teen when he was a victim in an assault, he said.
Meanwhile, investigators are looking in to whether the girl was sexually assaulted as well.
"We are trying to find out what the motivation to get her back into the woods was," said Puyallup police chief Bryan Jeter. "We don't have confirmation of that or evidence of that at this point so it is something that we are looking in to, for sure."