Suspect in Wyoming kidnapping won't fight extradition

2012-10-15T10:55:00Z 2013-11-19T14:49:07Z Suspect in Wyoming kidnapping won't fight extradition The Billings Gazette
October 15, 2012 10:55 am

BOZEMAN - A Montana man charged with kidnapping and assaulting an 11-year-old girl won't fight extradition to Wyoming to face the charges.

Jesse Paul Speer waived his right to an extradition hearing in a brief court appearance Monday in Bozeman.

Speer was dressed in an orange prison jump suit and only spoke to give Judge Holly Brown his name and to answer yes and no questions.

Public defender Eric Brewer told Brown that law enforcement officials confiscated Speer's eyeglasses and questioned him without an attorney present.

Brewer requested that officers not interrogate Speer any further without a lawyer.

Speer is being held without bond in Gallatin County Detention Center until he is transported to Wyoming

Brewer says he expects the move to happen soon but does not know when.

- Associated Press 


Court documents outline exhaustive manhunt in Wyoming abduction case 

2 p.m. update: Thanks in large part to extremely detailed descriptions given by the 11-year-old victim, a Manhattan, Mont., man suspected of kidnapping and sexually assaulting the girl here on Oct. 8 now faces felony kidnapping, aggravated assault and use of a firearm during a felony crime charges after authorities arrested him in Belgrade on Saturday.

Charging documents filed on Saturday in Park County, Wyo., District Court name the man as Jesse Paul Speer, 39. He is being held at the Gallatin County Detention Facility in Bozeman on a $2 million bond for a warrant out of Wyoming.

An extradition hearing was set for 1:30 p.m.

Cody Police Chief Perry Rockvam, who did not mention Speer by name, said at a Monday morning press conference at Cody City Hall that there is still more work to do after a weeklong hunt for the suspect.

“The investigation is still ongoing and additional charges will be filed,” he told a crowd of residents and media from as far away as Denver, Colo.

The basic details of the abduction and assault have been known to the public since last week but Monday’s press conference and the release of charging documents against Speer provided the first look inside how authorities from as far away as Virginia tracked Speer.

“This was a tremendous team effort by law enforcement as a whole,” Rockvam said.

The girl provided law enforcement with an extremely detailed and accurate account of the man, his vehicle, what happened and where they went during the abduction.

On Oct. 8, a man drove up to three girls at the Park County Complex and asked them if they could help him find a lost puppy. Charging documents say that one of the girls said she’d help only to decline, prompting the man to point a gun at her chest and motion for her to get into the Toyota 4-Runner he was driving.

Later identified in court documents as Speer, the man then allegedly drove the girl to a nearby church and tied her hands behind her back with rope.

"The victim told the suspect that she knew that he was going to rape her and the suspect responded that she wasn't going to get hurt," Rockvam said.

As he drove, Speer told the girl to keep her head down and struck her in the back of the head with the pistol once when she raised her head, court documents state. However, the girl kept her head partially up as the drove and took note of her surroundings, many of which she later pointed out to investigators.

Eventually, they ended up in a rural area outside of Cody, where Speer allegedly assaulted the girl. Charging documents say that she saw photographs of naked young girls in the SUV before Speer put a cloth bag over her head and began to drive again.

He eventually untied the girl and walked her away from the vehicle before telling her count to 50 and then leaving, the affidavit states.

The girl began walking down a nearby road and about 10 minutes later, a pair of hunters — Shane Larsen and Jim Laske — was finishing a hunting trip with their sons and came across her. They picked her up and called officials by about 8 p.m.

Charging documents detail how the girl took investigators on a step-by-step recreation of where they went and how she gave them very specific, accurate information on what happened.

“She’s a tremendously strong girl,” Rockvam said.

The documents outline how a multi-state search began for Speer, even before law enforcement knew who he was. Rockvam and Bob Evans, supervisory special agent in charge from the Cheyenne division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, said Monday that it included officials from all over Wyoming and Montana at the local and state levels, as well as the FBI, including its behavioral analysis unit in Virginia.

“Those men and women, for the next six days, worked tirelessly,” Evans said.

Investigators reviewed surveillance tapes from an 80-mile radius around Cody and, in several instances, found footage that they believed was of the suspect and his vehicle.

As officials scoured the area for clues and sightings, an area logger reported that he found an abandoned cargo box near where the assault happened that authorities believe Speer took off of the Toyota afterward in attempt to change its look.

On Oct. 13, an FBI agent watched an Oct. 7 surveillance tape from the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park of a vehicle of the same description, with a driver who looked similar to the one described by they victim, the affidavit states.

Investigators were able to make out a Montana license plate on the vehicle, which traced back to Speer, according to charging documents. They then compared photos of Speer and a composite sketch of the abductor provided by the victim with surveillance footage from around Cody and they matched up.

During the press conference, Rockvam said that an unrelated incident in Belgrade sped up the arrest of Speer, which happened on Saturday afternoon. The police department there spent part of the day searching for a pair of 9-year-old girls, who were later found safe and unharmed, but officials initially wondered if the cases might be related.

“That definitely expedited our efforts in getting him in custody,” Rockvam said. “That is really what forced us to arrest him.”

The abduction shook the town of Cody, said Mayor Nancy Tia Brown, and prompted a range of emotions over the course of the investigation.

“In one week’s time, I think we’ve gone from shock to fear to anger to hope,” she said. “People were almost paralyzed with fear at first but once (the victim) was found, that shifted the focus from fear about her safety to rage towards the suspect.”

The case also took its toll on law enforcement, with investigators working around the clock while pouring through hours upon hors of surveillance footage, following up on leads and tracking down potential witnesses.

Evans said child abduction and assault cases can take an emotional toll on them as well.

“These cases are hectic for law enforcement,” he said. “They’re the worst kind we work.”

It’s been a tough year in Cody, officials said. A string of other incidents — including the fatal shooting of a man by police, a homicide and armed robberies, among other events — has changed the town.

Parents have grown wary about letting their kids do things like walk to a nearby rec center alone or ride their bikes to school, Rockvam said.

“The innocence of our town has been lost in some way this last year,” he said.

Despite that, the tight-knit community of about 9,600 will find a way to move on, Brown said.

“You try to learn from it, you try to grow from and you try to move forward, all without losing your faith in humanity,” she said.

-Gazette Staff

 11: 55 a.m. update: Bozeman Police, Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and Belgrade Police are planning a 3 p.m. press conference at the Gallatin County Detention Center today regarding law enforcement’s role in the arrest of Jesse Speer.

11: 30 a.m. update: Charging documents filed on Saturday in Park County (Wyo.) District Court identify the suspect in the abduction of an 11-year-old Cody girl as 39-year-old Jesse Paul Speer, of Manhattan, Mont.

Speer is scheduled for an initial appearance at 1:30 p.m. today in front of District Court Judge Holly Brown, according to Gallatin County attorney Marty Lambert.

Speer is facing charges of kidnapping, aggravated assault and use of a firearm while committing a felony.

Court documents show that victim provided detailed information after the Oct. 8 abduction and assault.

“The investigation is still ongoing and additional charges will be filed,” said Cody Police Chief Perry Rockvam.

About 50 people attended a press conference at Cody City Hall on Monday morning on the arrest of a suspect in last week’s abduction and assault of a Cody girl.

Rockvam, Cheyenne-based FBI agent Bob Evans and Cody Mayor Nancy Tia Brown all spoke during the news conference.

Over the past year, Cody's experienced an officer-involved shooting, a homicide and two bank robberies, all unusual for the town of about 9,500. 

“The innocence of our town has been lost in some way over this last year,” Rockvam said.   

Without giving details, Rockvam said law enforcement officials in Yellowstone National Park were able to provide a license plate number for a vehicle, which led to the arrest.

Rockvam said the girl was driven to a church parking lot and her hands were tied. The man told her to keep her head down as he drove through town, hitting her once on the head with the gun when she tried to raise it.

"The victim told the suspect that she knew that he was going to rape her, and the suspect responded that she wasn't going to get hurt," Rockvam said.

The man drove the girl to a mountainous area and sexually assaulted her, Rockvam said. He said the man then put a cloth bag over her head and released her, telling her to count to 50 before she turned around. Passing elk hunters found the girl, dressed lightly in the mountainous area, and took her to safety, the chief said.

-Gazette Staff

SUNDAY REPORT: Authorities have apprehended a suspect in the Oct. 8 abduction and possible sexual assault of a Cody, Wyo., girl.

A Sunday evening news release from Dave Joly, a spokesman with Federal Bureau of Investigation's Denver offices, said officials arrested a man in Belgrade in connection with the case.

The release did not go into detail about the arrest or the suspect, nor did it include his name.

"Further details will be made available in the coming days by the Park County and Prosecuting Attorney’s Office in Cody," Joly wrote.

Gallatin County Detention Facility inmate records show that a man named Jesse Paul Speer, 40, was booked into the jail at 11:15 p.m. Saturday on a $2 million bond on a warrant out of Wyoming. The records indicate that the FBI was the agency that brought him in.

However, officials wouldn't confirm if Speer was being held in connection to the abduction or another case.

Wyoming officials sent out an alert to law enforcement, including agencies in Montana, at about 11:20 a.m. Sunday morning that the suspect and his vehicle had been picked up.

On its Facebook page, the Wyoming Highway Patrol confirmed the arrest.

"Cody Police Department has announced that the suspect and vehicle (white Toyota 4Runner) involved in the child abduction case in Cody has been captured," the patrol said in a Sunday afternoon post. "Thank you for all of your assistance and information!"

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been in charge of releasing information on the case since earlier this week.

A man lured the 11-year girl into a Toyota 4-Runner at the Park County Complex in Cody by asking her to help him find a lost puppy, Cody Police Department Perry Rockvam said after the incident.

The girl told investigators that he flashed a gun and told her to get into the vehicle before driving her to a popular hunting area outside of town.

Hunters found the girl walking down a nearby road later that evening and a multistate search for the abductor began.

The FBI and Cody authorities have released little information about what happened during the abduction but, over the last week, have provided suspect information, including a description of the man from the girl and a description of the 4-Runner he was driving.

As officials released more descriptions, law enforcement in Wyoming and Montana received a flood of calls of possible sightings, especially of the white SUV.

On Oct. 10, investigators found a Thule rooftop cargo box they believe was on the suspect vehicle near where the hunters found the girl. They then released on Friday a grainy surveillance image of the Toyota and, the next day, a composite sketch of the suspect.

It wasn't immediately clear what led authorities to Belgrade.

While the FBI took the lead on the investigation because of the age of the victim, it is a state of Wyoming case, Joly said. He referred future inquiries to authorities in Cody.

A press conference is scheduled for 10 a.m. on Monday at Cody City Hall.

-Gazette Staff

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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