SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah dad foiled an attempt to kidnap his young daughter from her bed early Friday after confronting a man carrying her across the lawn.
The 5-year-old girl wasn’t hurt in the frightening experience, but the incident has evoked haunting echoes of when 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was snatched out of her Salt Lake City bedroom in 2002. She was held captive for nine months before being found.
The suspect in this case entered the home through an unlocked door or window about 4:30 a.m. in Sandy, a middle-class suburb south of Salt Lake City, Police Sgt. Dean Carriger said.
The intruder was in the family’s basement searching through things when he came upon the girl sleeping in her bedroom, Carriger said. The suspect took her out of bed and carried her upstairs, making noises that woke the parents.
The girl’s father went to the door and saw the man carrying his daughter in the front lawn. He ran outside and confronted the man, wrestling away his daughter.
The suspect then fled, and the father called 911.
Officers set up a perimeter, and with the help of police dogs, launched a search. The suspect went into a second home, where the residents heard him and called police.
Police captured the 46-year-old man outside that second home thanks to a police dog that bit the suspect in the upper shoulder, Carriger said.
The family told police they had never seen and don’t know the suspect, who police have identified as Troy Morley of Roy, Utah. Police don’t know yet why the suspect was in the house or if he had a planned it, Carriger said.
Morley is still at the hospital receiving medical treatment for the dog bite but is expected to be arrested later Friday and booked on charges of child kidnapping and burglary.
Police are still gathering details about the events, including how the father got his daughter back and if weapons were involved. Carriger said the family is doing pretty well considering what happened.
“It obviously was a very scary, traumatic situation,” Carriger said. “The sanctity of our home is huge and for somebody to enter that and grab your child, it’s got to be one of the worst nightmares a parent could face. . . If those parents were not awakened to go out and investigate, he could have easily left undetected with the girl.”