SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A 55-year-old Utah man has been arrested in the disappearance of a teenage girl last week that set off a massive search involving 1,000 volunteers in freezing temperatures.
The teenager _ 13-year-old Brooklyn Gittins _ was without her shoes or a coat when she crawled out of her bedroom window at her suburban Herriman home on Jan. 8. She called her grandmother two days later and officers later found her uninjured at a Wal-Mart store.
Police arrested Angel Garcia of Draper on Wednesday at about 7:30 p.m. He was booked on suspicion of child kidnapping, harboring a runaway, obstructing justice and endangering a child, Salt Lake County Sheriff Jim Winder said.
Garcia told police that an upset Gittins called him and he came to pick her up and then allowed her to stay in his house and sleep in his bed for two days. Garcia knew about the search, and hid the teen in his bedroom when police came to his house, Winder said.
Police do not believe there was any sexual assault.
Whether the teen stayed with Garcia willingly is irrelevant, Winder said at a Wednesday night news conference. Because of Gittins’ age, she’s considered a victim of a crime, the sheriff said, according to KSL-TV.
A charging document from the Unified Police Department states that Gittins used a phone given to her by Garcia to call him after she climbed out of her window.
During the second night at Garcia’s house in Draper, the girl heard a knock and heard police asking about her. She went to hide in the bedroom while Garcia answered the door, the document said.
After Garcia denied having the girl, he drove her to a nearby shopping center and dropped her off to hide in a ditch for several hours. She was still wearing a T-shirt and pajamas with no shoes or jacket in the cold.
Garcia later picked her up and took her back to his house. Gittens then called her grandmother and arranged to be picked up at a Wal-Mart. Police located her after the grandmother contacted police.
The two-day search covered 17 square miles in the area near Gittins’ home. The taxpayer cost of the search hasn’t yet been calculated, Unified Police spokesman Lt. Justin Hoyal said.
When police interviewed Garcia this week, he told them that he saw the search on television and even talked about it with a neighbor. He didn’t explain why he hid the girl when police came to his house, and then took her to a ditch.
Winder said Gittins and Garcia knew each other through common friends, KSL-TV reported.
Gittins hasn’t returned to school, the sheriff said. Her grandfather, Craig Hiller, said she was “very subdued” over the weekend.
“I’m sure (she’s) just trying to figure out what to do, being a 13-year-old girl,” Hiller said, according to KSL-TV. “She’s just kind of keeping to herself at this time.”
The case has been turned over to the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office to determine if formal charges will be filed against Garcia.
(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- The Pac-12 football season nears kickoff
- Tips to get ready for a pain-free golf season
- Protect your family with these 7 home security features
- How to train like an Olympic swimmer
- 2016 Olympics: A guide to must-see TV events
- The bride's guide to feeling your best on your wedding day
- Deciding when you need knee surgery
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food