Search for man who abducted 11-year-old Cody girl continues

2012-10-10T17:15:00Z 2013-04-27T20:37:23Z Search for man who abducted 11-year-old Cody girl continuesBy ZACH BENOIT The Billings Gazette Casper Star-Tribune Online
October 10, 2012 5:15 pm  • 

While authorities continue to look for a man who abducted and allegedly sexually assaulted an 11-year-old Cody girl before releasing her several hours later on Monday, the community is working to come to grips with what happened.

"I know that the community, No. 1, is grateful that the girl was found," said Bryan Monteith, superintendent of Park County School District 6, which includes Cody. "But there's a lot of anger based on the fact that someone does this to an 11-year-old girl. I think they want him caught and brought to justice."

The community and law enforcement, under the direction of the Cody Police Department, have been active in the search.

A review of calls made to to the department on Tuesday shows that about one-third of the 26 calls to which officers responded were from people reporting people or vehicles that might match information provided by Chief Perry Rockvam earlier in the day.

All of those calls came in after noon, shortly after Rockvam sent out a press release detailing the incident that included descriptions of the man who grabbed the girl and of his sport utility vehicle.

The release described the abductor as a white man 55 to 60 years old, weighing 185 to 200 pounds and with short, strawberry blond or white hair and a neatly trimmed beard or mustache of the same color. He was wearing blue jeans, a brown shirt and a tan baseball cap.

Rockvam could not be reached Wednesday for comment. He said the man was last seen driving a white SUV, possibly a Suburban, with gray leather seats in the front and an open back area with a mattress on the floor. It also had a black and red backpack and a package of water bottles tied to the roof rack.

All of the calls to police Tuesday described a man with similar characteristics or a similar-looking SUV, although all turned out to be unfounded or officers could not find the person.

The release said the unknown man approached three girls in his vehicle on Monday afternoon at the Park County Complex and asked if they'd help him find his missing puppy.

One of the girls said she'd help and later told investigators that, when she approached the SUV, the man brandished a pistol and told her to get into the front seat.

He then drove her outside Cody to the Spirit Mountain Road area, where the sexual assault occurred before he released the girl, Rockvam said.

Hunters in the area found the girl walking down the road and called police, leading Rockvam to ask anybody hunting in the area recently to contact the Cody Police Department.

Authorities have cast a wide net in the search for the abductor, bringing in the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as sending an alert for the man and his vehicle to law enforcement agencies across the region.

The Associated Press reported that authorities investigating the disappearance of a 10-year-old Colorado girl are looking into whether it could be linked to the Cody abduction.

Police in the Denver suburb of Westminster say they're aware of the Cody case and were working with investigators there on Wednesday.

Jessica Ridgeway of Westminster has been missing since Friday, when she left home to meet friends at a park for the walk to school. The fifth-grader never arrived at school.

Two days later, her backpack was found on a sidewalk in a neighborhood about six miles away.

On Wednesday, authorities said they believed the girl was abducted and none of her family members was involved.

As for the Cody case, Carbon County, Mont., Sheriff Tom Reiger said his department is on high alert, with Wyoming's Park County sitting at the county's southern border, and is searching for any leads while other agencies across Montana have let their staff know to keep an eye out.

"We’re assisting with anything that they need," said Steven Woodson, director of the Wyoming DCI. "We told [Rockvam] that we’ll assist him with whatever he needs."

Monteith said that Monday was a professional development day for staff members in the school district, and students didn't have class.

School officials were notified of the situation and its progress and, on Tuesday, put into effect an incident command system for the five schools in the district -- which is has about 2,200 K-12 students -- that called for extra staff members outside during busy pickup and drop-off hours.

District officials also made sure that each of the five Cody schools has counselors available for students and staff members while an on-call district psychologist and teachers prepared to answer any questions.

"I think everybody in our community has been affected by this," Monteith said.

He said some students have already spoken with counselors, while others asked teachers questions. He expects that his staff members will see more as the students further comprehend the abduction and assault.

The girl has not yet returned to school and extra efforts are being made to make sure that the two girls who were with her before the abduction, as well as for others who know her well, are taken care of at school.

Livingston Elementary Principal Tom Cook said staff members at the school, where the girl is a student, prepared a statement tailored for students who know the girl that could also be used to answer questions from younger students.

After the initial talks, the goal was to keep a normal school day while still giving students the chance to ask questions about what happened.

"We address it, we acknowledge it and we deal with it, but we still want to keep normalcy in our lives," Cook said.

Teachers also took the opportunity to remind students about being safe around strangers.

Still, the abduction had an effect on the school's mood.

"It's been pretty quiet, pretty somber," Cook said. "It's one of those things you never want to have to deal with. But it's also reminded us that we can't ever let our guard down."

In the meantime, Monteith, like authorities, hopes that the search for the abductor ends soon.

"There's still a high level of concern, of course, while this person's still at large," he said. "The thing that no one knows is whether he's from the area or somewhere else and is already gone."

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(3) Comments

  1. wht_ev_r_chic
    Report Abuse
    wht_ev_r_chic - October 11, 2012 9:47 am
    I wonder if anyone has wondered if this was the same creep that had been lurking around the Casper schools and neighborhoods?
  2. nls
    Report Abuse
    nls - October 11, 2012 6:43 am
    DK your so right. These kind of Men are trash and going to prison won't help...First they need Castradted, Then be put to death.
  3. DK
    Report Abuse
    DK - October 11, 2012 6:24 am
    When are we as a society going to finally say we have had enough of these kind of trash, preying on our children. No new laws, just exicute on conviction. They can not be rehabilitated. They have no place in society. Quick, short trial, and even an even shorter rope.
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