Mo. girl found safe, sex offender arrested

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (AP) — A registered sex offender was charged Wednesday with abducting a 5-year-old girl and restraining his girlfriend with duct tape after she found the child in the man’s home.

The Butler County prosecutor charged Jeffrey Dean Shelton, 45, of Poplar Bluff, with four felonies — felonious restraint, child kidnapping, second-degree domestic assault and first-degree burglary. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. No bail has been set.

The girl and Shelton, who aren’t related, were found during a traffic stop at 1:50 p.m. Wednesday along a rural highway about 10 miles south of her hometown of Poplar Bluff, said Poplar Bluff Officer Darron Moore.

Moore said Shelton’s silver 2001 Nissan Pathfinder was spotted and stopped by officers from the Poplar Bluff department, Butler County Sheriff’s Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Shelton did not try to flee and did not resist arrest, Moore said.

The girl was taken to a hospital as a precaution, Moore said.

“She was alive and well and appeared to be fine,” he said.

The child’s mother discovered just before 7 a.m. that she was missing and contacted police. A witness saw the child leaving the area near the home with a man who police said lives about a mile away.

Moore said the girl’s family does not know the man and it wasn’t clear what would have led him to the child, or how he was able to get her out of the home.

A Poplar Bluff detective wrote in the probable cause statement that a woman described as Shelton’s current or ex-girlfriend went to Shelton’s home around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday and saw the child sitting in a chair. The woman said that when Shelton came into the front room, he said it was “now her fault that he was going to have to kill her and the child.”

The woman told authorities Shelton beat her, knocked her onto the floor and bound her hands with duct tape. She said Shelton then made the girl expose herself, according to the probable cause statement.

The woman told authorities she attempted to escape but Shelton caught her on the carport and began beating her. When the beating drew the attention of neighbors, he stopped hitting her, allowing her to run to the house next door. The woman said Shelton then fled with the child in the Nissan, the probable cause statement said.

Sandra Tubb, who lives in the neighboring house, told the Associated Press that the woman fled to her home around 7:15 a.m. Wednesday.

“She was beaten up was what she was and so we called the authorities,” Tubb said. “I saw him take off but didn’t see the little girl. I was busy on the phone I guess.”

Tubb said the man had been living in the home about a year and a half. Tubb said he and the woman lived together “off and on” and the woman was “in and out.”

“I was glad they found her (the girl) and that woman who was involved there she was really worried,” Tubb said. “She helped them all she could. She is the one who gave them all the information.”

Shelton was convicted in 1990 for the abduction, rape and sodomy of a 12-year-old girl in Fort Hood, Texas.

Earlier coverage:

Amber alert canceled: Suspect caught; victim found safe

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