Man with runaway girl in Springfield is charged with kidnapping
A man from Springfield is charged with kidnapping a 13-year-old girl who ran away from her grandparents' home on Tuesday night before being found on Wednesday morning.
Harold Brooks had the girl on his lap in his wheelchair when a City Utilities bus driver spotted her and called police. After dropping off the girl at the bus stop along South Campbell Avenue near Broadmoor Street, Brooks left. The driver, TJ Davis, stopped his bus and called police, who took her away to continue their investigation and reunite her with her family.
The driver described Brooks as a frequent bus passenger. Police were able to find him, question him, and search his home. That led to the kidnapping charge.
"We are thrilled that T.J. was able to help bring a successful resolution to this incident. Everyone at City Utilities and CU Transit is proud that his quick observation and response to the situation was able to assist the police and community in the investigation and safely return (the girl) to her family," said Scott Miller, general manager of City Utilities of Springfield, in a news release.
A 13-year-old diagnosed with autism was reported missing just after 6 p.m. Tuesday. She had run away from her guardians while in the 500 block of E. Deerfield St.
At approximately 11 a.m. Wednesday as officers were still actively searching for the child, she was spotted by a City Utilities bus driver at a bus stop near the intersection of Campbell and Broadmoor while in the care of Harold J. Brooks (11/1/57).
Prosecutors say Brooks did not initially cause the girl's disappearance, but had a conversation with the teen Tuesday night. She told police she asked Brooks to use his phone to call her dad. Brooks then took the girl to his house saying he would help her find her father. instead, prosecutors say Brooks gave the girl a pill that made her sleepy. They say Brooks removed her clothes and she slept on his bed Tuesday night before taking the girl to the bus stop Wednesday morning and telling the driver she needed help. Brooks then left before police arrived.
It has also been determined that there was no prior relationship between Brooks and the child and that the child’s guardians did not give Brooks permission to have the child in his custody.
The Springfield Police Department arrested Brooks on probable cause Wednesday night, and the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office charged Brooks on Thursday with first-degree child kidnapping. His bond is set at $500,000.
This investigation is ongoing and is in its very early stages, and it is possible that additional charges could be presented to the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in the future.
According to the probable cause statement, the girl approached Brooks and asked to use his phone to call her father. Documents show he told the 13-year-old he'd help her find her dad, and give her a present. Police say he took her back to his house on South Place, fed her, combed her hair, kissed her on the mouth, and took her clothes off to wash them.
Documents show the girl told police Brooks gave a pill that made her tired and made her sleep in his bed. When she woke up, Brooks told her she wet the bed and then took her to the bus stop, where a bus driver called for help.
Police searched that house on Wednesday and found the bed linens in the dryer, a comb with hair in it, and a prescription bottle filled with Zolpidem, which is a sedative that was prescribed to Brooks.