PUYALLUP, Wash. - A man who was helping search for a missing 7-year-old girl says a 14-year-old neighbor boy who was arrested in her abduction and attack was trying to lead him away from the girl's location.
Police said the girl was lured into woods near a Puyallup apartment complex and sexually assaulted. The 14-year-old suspect was arrested Thursday.
Capt. Dalan Brokaw said the girls' parents reported her missing about 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Glenbrooke apartments on 43rd Avenue Southeast and 10th Street.
Destry Carr was helping search for the girl, and found a shoe at the edge of a wooded area north of the apartment complex.
“It was a black tennis shoe with a pink sole,” said Carr.
He’d been searching with his son, “mine and his heart both dropped. My son and I didn’t know what to think of it,” Carr told KIRO 7's Alison Grande
Carr and his son rushed and showed police.
“The bloodhound was put on the shoe and immediately found the victim a short distance away under heavy brush,“ said Puyallup Police Chief Bryan Jeter.
Police said she had been choked and was unable to walk.
Puyallup officers carried the injured girl out of the woods to a location where Central Pierce Fire and Rescue medics were standing by.
She was taken to Mary Bridge Children's Hospital in Tacoma in serious condition and is expected to survive.
The girl was able to identify her attacker as a 14-year-old boy who lived in the same apartment complex. He was arrested at 4:45 a.m.
Brokaw said the girl was lured away from other children playing outside with a story about finding an injured animal in the woods.
Patty Nelson and other apartment residents were out looking for the missing girl before police were called.
She said she was relieved the girl was found alive.
“They're such cheerful, happy kids at that age, you know, and to have to be burdened with this, it just makes me sick. It changed her life forever,” said Nelson.
People in the complex who know the boy who was arrested said he seemed like a normal young teenager.
But they said they thought it was strange that he was hanging out and chatting with everyone while others were searching for the girl.
Steve Puppe was helping with the search. He was sickened to find out the teen who had been searching with him was arrested for the crime.
Now he realizes the teen was taking him away from where he’d left the girl.
“I didn’t know whether to cry or get very angry. Why? Why would you lead someone away when someone’s laying there hurt?” said Puppe.
On Wednesday night, the apartment complex had put up fencing to block off the woods behind the apartment complex.
Neighbors said the suspect’s mother and two brothers moved out of the complex today.
The teen is in Remann Hall and is expected in court on Friday.
Prosecutors are still deciding if the teen will be charged as an adult.