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Oct 16, 2012 9:24 AM by Angela Douglas - Q2 News

Cody Police Chief: 'I'm very confident that we have the right person'

CODY, WY - The community of Cody, Wyoming is breathing a sigh of relief after the arrest of a man authorities believe abducted and assaulted a young girl last week in Cody.

"Just relieved and really hoping that this is the suspect," said Cody resident, Laurie Miller.

Fellow resident, Mark Kipley, agreed.

"Hopefully justice will be served here," he added.

A press conference was held Monday morning at Cody City Hall, where city officials expressed gratitude while releasing new details surrounding the investigation.

"We've been on a roller coaster ride since a week ago today. One that we didn't expect, didn't anticipate, and hope we never have to endure again," said Cody Mayor Nancy Tia Brown. "But at the end of the day, there's gratitude because we have a victim that's safe and a suspect in custody."

Cody Police Chief Perry 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.

"As soon as we had boots on the ground we began looking at all the video surveillance that we could have available to us, we began going door-to-door, doing canvasses of the area," explained Chief Rockvam.

Jesse Speer, 39, of Manhattan, Montana was arrested Saturday night in Belgrade.

Law enforcement was able to use surveillance video from Cody businesses and Yellowstone National Park to track down the suspect vehicle. An image from the park revealed the license plate number, which led to the arrest of Speer.

The Montana man 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 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.

"At one point the victim attempted to lift her head and the suspect struck her on the back of the head with a gun," explained Rockvam.

He drove the girl out of town, to a remote area in the canyon just west of Cody.

"The victim told the suspect that she knew that he was going to rape her and the suspect responded by telling her that she was not going to get hurt. The suspect left the paved roadway and traveled up a mountain road, which we now know is the Carter Mountain access road," explained Cody's Chief of Police. "The suspect pulled off the road and it was at this time that the suspect reported being assaulted."

The man later put a bag over her head, removed her from the vehicle, unbound her hands, and told her to walk away and count to 50 while he drove off. She then walked down the mountain road until a group of hunters picked her up, about four hours after she was abducted.

"I would have to say that the innocence of our town has been lost in some ways in this last year," said Chief Rockvam. "And I think that everybody in our community recognizes that. That Cody is not the same as it once was."

Cody residents agree that they can't be naïve.

"A false sense of security in this small town," said Miller. "We still have to be careful and aware that predators are out there."

"It's something that we didn't really expect," Kipley said. "But that doesn't mean that Cody's gotten anymore unsafe or anything like that, it's just that it's unfortunately what's out there."

But what's not out there, according to Chief Rockvam, is the man who victimized and assaulted one their children.

"I'm very confident that we have the right person," Chief Rockvam stated.

Speer was charged Monday in Gallatin County District Court and is currently behind bars in the Gallatin County Detention Facility on a $2 million bond, but as the investigation continues and the case progresses through Wyoming State Court, he will be held at the Park County Detention Facility.

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