Posted: Oct 15, 2012 4:49 PM by Angela Douglas - Q2 News
Updated: Oct 15, 2012 6:35 PM
CODY, WY - The community of Cody, Wyoming is breathing a sigh of relief Monday after the arrest of a man authorities believe abducted and assaulted a young girl last week in Cody.
"This is something we didn't expect, didn't anticipate, and hope to never endure again," said Cody Mayor Nancy Tia Brown. "But we feel gratitude. This was a week of hard, hard work."
A press conference was held Monday morning at Cody City Hall. It was the first time since the October 8 abduction that Cody Police Chief Perry Rockvam addressed the incident in public.
"This has had quite an impact on our community. Cody is a small, resort town. It's close-knit and everyone knows each other," Chief Rockvam said to the room full of media, community members, and law enforcement. "The children of this community are the children of all of us."
Chief Rockvam commended the team effort by all law enforcement, both at the state and federal level, for capturing the suspect within a week of the incident. Jesse Speer, 39, of Manhattan, Montana was arrested Saturday night in Belgrade. Law enforcement was able to use surveillance video from businesses throughout Cody and Yellowstone National Park to track down the suspect vehicle. An image from YNP revealed the license plate number, which led to the arrest of Speer.
Speer is accused of luring the 11-year-old girl into his vehicle, asking her to help him search for his puppy. According to Rockvam, the girl told police that initially agreed to help the man, but when she reconsidered and started to show some reluctance, he displayed a handgun and told her to get into the vehicle. He then drove west out of town to a remote area on Carter Mountain. The abduction happened at about 3:55 p.m. at the Park County Complex in Cody. Two of the girl's friends were present at the time of the incident and called the police after the victim didn't return 45 minutes later.
The victim told police that the suspect drove her to a church parking lot and bound her hands with rope. The man told the victim to keep her head down. She said that when she attempted to lift head, he struck her on the head with the gun. She told police that she repeatedly asked the man to turn around, but she said he told her the he "knew a better way home." The 11-year-old girl also told police that she told the man that she knew he was going to rape her, but he said she was not going to get hurt. The girl told police that eventually he pulled off the road and that's when he assaulted her.
The man later removed her from the vehicle, put a bag over her head, unbound her hands, and told her to walk away from the vehicle and count to 50 while he drove off. She then walked down the mountain road until a group of hunters picked her up around 8 p.m.
During the press conference Chief Rockvam commended the 11-year-old victim, calling her "a tremendously strong girl."
Chief Rockvam said they did not know why Speer was in Cody on October 8. Rockvam also did not comment on whether or not Speer confessed to the crime, but said he is very confident that they have the right person.
Speer has been charged with one felony count of kidnapping, one felony count of aggravated assault, and one count of use of a firearm while committing a felony.
Rockvam said more charges will be filed as the investigation continues.
Speer does not have any criminal history.
Speer is being held in the Gallatin County Detention Facility on a $2 million bond.