Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Missing 13-year-old Edmonton girl found alive in Oregon, 41-year-old arrested

Edmonton – Police say a 13-year-old Edmonton girl missing in the United States has been found alive.

Leila Smith, who was reported missing on June 24, was found uninfected on Saturday morning at a hotel in Portland, Oregon, her father, Martin Smith, said.

“We’re on our way to Portland right now. It doesn’t look like it’s over until we have Leela in our arms,” ​​Martin said. “I’ve asked FBI agents how her mood is. They say she is looking forward to seeing us, she is tired and she is trying to rest now.

Edmonton Police Inspector Brent Dahlseid says Smith is currently in a hospital in Oregon for a precautionary check-up. They say a 41-year-old Oregon man will be charged with child luring and is expected to face additional charges in Canada and the US.

Dahlseid says the man is believed to have come to Edmonton, but it is not yet clear how he initially made contact with Smith or how he crossed the US border. EPS spokesperson Landis Reichley told the Star in an email that “police believe the suspect and Leila may have had contact with each other online.”

Leela was last seen on June 24 at 8:30 a.m., near Killarney Junior High School, north of downtown Edmonton. She went to school that morning by bus, but never went to class. Later his family informed the police about his disappearance.

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Photos of the girl have surfaced on billboards and posters in Alberta last week, asking people to be on the lookout for her and contacting police with suggestions.

Dahlseed says that Edmonton police received assistance from other agencies in Canada as well as the FBI and other police services in the US.

“The key pieces to the suspect’s identification were several EPS members conducting their follow-up investigations and CCTV received from the community that supported our members’ investigation,” Reichley said.

Martin said the FBI would meet him and Leela’s mother at the airport in Portland and take them to Leela.

He said they both felt a sense of great relief and described the final week of Lila’s search as “a nightmare”.

“You are living in constant fear and anticipation of what Lila was doing and whether she was hurt,” Martin said.

“I am so happy to have Leela back. Right now, the specifics of the case don’t really matter as much as starting the recovery from there to get her back home.”

Dahlseed said an Amber Alert was not issued because investigators did not have details of the suspect or suspect vehicle. He said police received the information on Friday and were drafting an alert that afternoon after they learned from Canada Border Services that the suspect had entered the US.

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The suspect was not under Canadian jurisdiction at the time, Dahlseid explained, which is another criterion for an Amber Alert. He said he deduced where the suspect was going and alerted officials on the US side.

Dahlseid said he believed the arrest was made just outside of Gladstone, Oregon, south of Portland, far from the suspect’s residence. He said the suspect’s name would not be disclosed until the charges were formally framed.

Canadian investigators have yet to speak to the girl or suspect, Dahlseid said, and other questions remain.

He said investigators believed the suspect was in Mission, B.C., for three to four days, so they would ask the RCMP there to speak to people who may have seen him or the girl during that time. He said the FBI would also help supply bank or credit card information to piece together the activities of the suspect.

With files from the Canadian Press

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Nation World News Desk
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