Police tipped off by neighbors of a missing Texas girl's whereabouts took a 33-year-old man and the 15-year-old girl into custody yesterday, the girl's mother said.
Ricky Lynn Bacon Jr. was arrested on charges including aggravated indecent liberties with a child and contributing to the delinquency of a minor at 1:22 Monday afternoon. Both Bacon and the girl were taken into custody about 9 a.m. Monday, after they were located at a residence at the 700 block of Connecticut Street.
The Journal-World typically does not name suspects involved with sex crimes unless they plead guilty or are convicted. But the scope of this case, spanning multiple states and including the search for a child, spurred the decision to name Bacon.
The girl, Ashley Brown, of Katy, Texas, was taken to the juvenile detention center. She will be transported back to Texas within two or three days, said Harris County Sheriff's deputy Albert Perez, who investigated the case.
Ashley went missing April 24 and had a history of running away, said her mother, who requested her name not be used. Ashley's mother said her daughter was rebellious, had trouble in school and often sought attention. But she is glad to know her daughter is safe.
"I can't even explain the relief that I'm feeling, knowing that she's alive and healthy and off the street," she said. "Maybe now ... we can finally get the help she needs."
Lawrence police were notified by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation that the missing girl was possibly in Lawrence, a police report said.
Texas investigators discovered that the girl had signed into her MySpace account July 8 in Lawrence. The log-in was from an IP address registered to an unknown research and education network in Lawrence.
The girl's mother said she gained access to Ashley's MySpace account and was able to determine that she was with Bacon, whom Ashley may have met during a previous runaway attempt in November.
The family enlisted the help of the Family Crisis Network of Greater Houston, an organization that specializes in helping families whose children having fallen victim to Internet predators. The girl's mother said the organization was key to finding her daughter.
She said Ashley attempted to run away two other times in the week before she went missing in late April. She has had no contact with her daughter since she ran away, but will be grateful for her safe return.
"She could have seriously ended up in a scenario that could have endangered her life in the long run," she said.
Craig Gill, director of the Family Crisis Network of Greater Houston, which assisted in finding Ashley, said law enforcement agencies were aided by his organization, as well as security personnel from MySpace.
He praised the Lawrence Police Department and KBI for their work, and said his organization will continue to help Ashley and her family when she returns to Texas.
"We've extended our services to the mother for consultation, for anything we may be able to do to assist," he said. "We're just looking for a safe return, and all we can do is pray and move on to the next step."
Neighbors said the house where the pair were found may have been occupied by at least two other people. The residents kept to themselves, said Kristin Morland, 32, who lives nearby.
"It's hard to tell who lives there," she said.
She said past residents of the house, a two-story home with overgrown grass and ivy crawling the walls, trained pit bulls in the yard, and other residents were never engaged in the neighborhood.
"It seems like that house always has people that are doing questionable things," she said.