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 at about 4:30 a.m., in Sandy.
The intruder was in the family's basement when he came upon the girl sleeping in her bedroom. The suspect took her out of bed and carried her upstairs, making noises that woke the parents.
The girl's father saw the man carrying his daughter across the front lawn. He ran outside and confronted the man, demanding that he give back his little girl. The suspect handed her over to her father without confrontation. The suspect 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 two blocks away through a doggy door in an attempt to evade capture. The dogs at that house alerted the owners.
Police captured the 48-year-old man outside the second home thanks to a police dog that bit the suspect in the upper shoulder.
The family told police they had never seen the suspect before. Police have identified the suspect asTroy Morley of Roy, Utah.
Morley was arrested and booked on charges of child kidnapping, burglary, trespassing and resisting arrest. Morley isn't on Utah's sex offender registry and online court records only show a pair of divorces and DUI charges.
The idea of someone entering your home and grabbing your child, it's got to be one of the worst nightmares a parent could face. . . If those parents were not awakened and got up to investigate, he could have easily left undetected with the girl.
"Things like that just don't happen around here," said Melissa Johnson, 26, who is staying in her parents' house that is next to the home where the abduction event occurred. She said her younger sibling heard screams and commotion in the early morning and came to sleep with her downstairs.
"I've been thinking that the Heavenly Father had a hand it," Johnson said.
About 45 miles north in Roy, where Morley lived, neighbors said they weren't the least bit surprised to find out the man known as a super creep had been accused of trying to abduct a girl.
Next-door neighbor Andrea Shearer, 33, said she forbid her children to interact with Morley after a series of bizarre and inappropriate conversations. Shearer said Morley had been caught sneaking into backyards, including hers. She obtained a no trespass order on him from police.
She said she believes Morley had a meth addiction. He talked about a satanic cult causing his wife to leave him and having critters crawling through the attic, she said.
"He scared me. I'm so glad he's gone," said Shearer, a health care professional. "You always hear people saying about their neighbor that they seemed so quiet and normal. Not him, I'm not surprised."
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