A teen from the northern Colorado area who police say was kidnapped by a male relative who was sexually abusing her has been located in Alabama, according to Colorado officials.
Thomas Ludwig Fechtler, also known as Thomas Kitchen, was pulled over and arrested by Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputies Thursday morning in Coffeeville, Ala., according to detective commander Jeff Satur of the Longmont, Colo. Coffeeville is more than 1,000 miles from the girl’s home in Colorado.
Satur said that the girl was found safe.
According to CBS News, Fechtler was taken into custody on a felony arrest warrant for sexual assault on a child–position of trust, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and 2nd degree kidnapping.
The suspect left Colorado with the girl on Monday, and the girl was reported as missing, said Satur. Then, police got a report that Fechtler had been involved in a pattern of sexual abuse with the girl and started their search for her Wednesday. The Longmont Times-Call reported that the girl’s mother had called before about the abuse, which had been going on since October.
Satur did say that the girl left with Fechtler on her own volition. “We don’t believe she’s being held against her will, but she’s been the victim of sexual abuse and we are concerned for her welfare,” Longmont Police Cmdr. Jeff Satur told the Denver Post Wednesday.
But because of the sexual abuse report, police said that there was an immediate threat to the girl’s safety. Satur said that the suspect and the girl are related, but he would not say how they were related.
The girl’s family told police that Fechtler had some family in Missouri, so police said that the pair could have been heading there, leading to a nationwide search with the help of the FBI and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The media also helped by publicizing the case and circulating photos of Fechtler and the car (a 2007 Toyota Rav 4) he was driving, according to CBS News.
Satur said that this case did not meet the criteria to issue an Amber Alert.
Several tips with sightings of the suspect and the teen were received, Satur said. Just before Fechtler’s arrest, the car had been spotted in Mississippi.
Police will not be releasing the name of the teen since she is a victim of sexual assault.