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5-year-old Stark Co. girl believed to be with a 36-year-old man found safe in Illinois

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Posted at 6:28 AM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-13 08:00:54-05

JACKSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio — UPDATE: The 5-year-old girl missing from Stark County has been found safe in Bloomington, Illinois, according to Jackson Township police. She was located around 9:25 p.m. The 36-year-old man has been arrested and remains in custody.

A statewide Amber Alert was issued for a 5-year-old girl who authorities believe was abducted by a 36-year-old acquaintance of the family.

The girl had last been seen in Canton on Thursday night at about 6:15 p.m. and is believed to be with the 36-year-old man.

According to police, the girl had permission from her mother to be with the acquaintance of the family and another woman Thursday. According to investigators, the three of them were at a Goodwill store. The man took the girl to another business to use the bathroom, but then he and the girl got into a vehicle with Michigan plates and drove away at about 6:15 p.m.

The girl was supposed to be returned to her home in Massillon, but that didn't happen, and police were unable to locate her or the man involved.

They were last seen on Fulton Drive at 6:15 p.m. Thursday, which is the location of the Goodwill in Canton.

"We have the Ohio State Patrol turn on all their signs on their license plate readers," said Lieutenant Jim Monigold with Jackson Township police. "We're looking for the vehicle."

Police told News 5 that the man is a family acquaintance who had permission to be with the girl but not for that long. Police believed they were together, and they didn't have reason to believe he would harm her, but since she was still missing the next day, she was listed as endangered.

Jackson Township police originally put out an Endangered Missing Child Alert Friday morning. An Amber Alert was issued Friday at about 2:15 p.m.

According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, an Amber Alert wasn't issued Thursday night because there was not an "immediate, credible threat of injury or death to the child."

"We were told that one of the criteria at that time was that there was no immediate threat to the child due to the fact that they were with somebody that they were permitted to be with," Monigold said.

Since that time, though, an Amber Alert was issued, and Monigold said he was very concerned.

"For the amount of time that a 5-year-old is gone — they didn't return home as they were supposed to," he said. "There's always that concern of the well-being of the child when you can't make contact with them or the person they're with."

The FBI assisted with the investigation. A News 5 crew at the scene saw two FBI agents show up at the Jackson Township Police Department to talk to investigations about the search.

Friday evening, Jackson Township police obtained arrest warrants for the man relating to his involvement in the kidnapping and abduction.

Officers had recently obtained pictures from a store in Knox County, Ohio of the vehicle involved as well as the man in the store.

Around 9:25 p.m.. Friday, deputies in Illinois notified the Jackson Township Police Department that they had located the girl and the man in their jurisdiction while responding to a suspicious vehicle parked along the roadway.

Law enforcement recovered the girl and took her to be evaluated by medical staff. The man was arrested on the active warrants for kidnapping and abduction. He was booked into a jail in Illinois and will be brought back to Ohio to face charges from the incident.

Click here to view the latest details on the Amber Alert.

Click here to view the News 5 Cleveland Missing Persons page.

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