Wyoming Kidnapping Suspect Has Colorado Ties
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP/CBS4) – A Montana man faces charges of kidnapping and assaulting an 11-year-old girl in Wyoming after police said he lured her to his car by saying he needed help finding a missing puppy, court records obtained Monday state.
Jesse Paul Speer, 39, was taken into custody Saturday in Belgrade, Mont., and held for Wyoming authorities. He faces extradition on charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault and felony use of a weapon, the records state.
Speer was being held without bond and waived his right to an extradition hearing during a brief court appearance Monday in Bozeman. He has not entered a plea.
Speer was dressed in an orange prison jump suit and only spoke to give Judge Holly Brown his name and to answer yes and no questions.
Public defender Eric Brewer told Brown that law enforcement officials had confiscated Speer’s eyeglasses and questioned him without an attorney present.
Brewer requested that officers not interrogate Speer any further without a lawyer. Brewer didn’t know when Speer would be sent to Wyoming.
Speer used to live and work in Estes Park. Among other jobs he worked for the Estes Park Trail Gazette newspaper 14 years ago.
Authorities have looked into a possible connection between the case and the disappearance of Jessica Ridgeway, a 10-year-old girl in Colorado, but now say they don’t think the cases are related. Jessica’s body was found Wednesday in a park about 7 miles from her suburban Denver home. No arrests have been made.
Speer approached children in Cody on Oct. 8 and asked for help finding his lost dog, police Detective Jonathan Beck wrote in a statement. The girl initially was receptive but then changed her mind, prompting Speer to pull a pistol and motion for her to get into his SUV, Beck wrote.
The statement said Speer drove the girl to a church parking lot and tied her hands behind her back. He told her to keep down as he drove through town, hitting her once on the head with the gun when she tried to raise it, the officer said.
“The victim told the suspect that she knew that he was going to rape her, and the suspect responded that she wasn’t going to get hurt,” Cody Police Chief Perry Rockvam told reporters.
He then drove the girl to a mountainous area outside of Cody, where he assaulted her, Beck said in the statement filed in state court in Cody.
Rockvam said the man then put a cloth bag over her head and released her, telling her to count to 50 before she turned around. Passing elk hunters found the girl, dressed lightly in the mountainous area, and took her to safety.
Many businesses in Cody provided surveillance video to investigators that showed a white, Toyota 4-Runner with a luggage box on top in various areas of the city shortly before the girl was abducted. In addition, the girl was able to describe the route taken when she was driven out of town.
On Saturday, an FBI agent reviewing surveillance video of a Yellowstone National Park entrance recorded on Oct. 7 – the day before the girl’s abduction – noticed a white Toyota with a cargo box. Other video at the park showed the vehicle leaving later.
Investigators matched the license plate number to Speer, whose driver’s license photograph resembled an artist’s rendering of the suspect the girl described, authorities said.
In another surveillance video, Speer’s glasses had a blue line on the side of the frame, matching a description the girl gave to police, Beck wrote. The victim also told investigators she saw stacked photographs of naked young girls in the vehicle.
Speer most recently lived in Manhattan, a small community about 20 miles west of Bozeman, said Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin. He declined to release any personal information about Speer.
Speer was arrested without incident in Belgrade, near Manhattan. Authorities declined to provide any further details of the arrest.
– By BEN NEARY, Associated Press
Ben Neary reported from Cheyenne, Wyo. Dan Elliott contributed to this report from Denver.
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