Oct 10, 2012 1:38 PM by Angela Douglas
The town of Cody, Wyoming, has a population of less than 10,000 people, and it's a community that prides itself on being tight-knit and safe.
"This is our small community," said Cody area resident Robyn Ellington. "We love it here. We feel safe here."
But on Monday afternoon that sense of security was shattered when an 11-year-old girl was abducted by a stranger and sexually assaulted.
"I felt anger. I wanted to hug all my children," said Ellington. "The poor girl will be scarred for life. This is just cruel and sick."
Fellow Cody area resident Karen Hertell agreed.
"It was horrifying," Hertell said.
According to the Cody Police Department, the girl was abducted shortly before 4 p.m. Monday at the Park County Complex on Stampede Avenue in Cody. About 45 minutes later, a friend of the girl reported to authorities that the 11-year-old had gotten into a white vehicle with a man to help him find his dog and had not returned.
The Park County Complex is a popular spot for Cody's younger population, it contains the county library, recreation center, and aquatic center.
"It was calculated by a sick predator," Ellington stated in reference to the abduction.
When officers arrived at the Park County Complex, the girl's friend told police that she, along with the victim and another girl, were standing outside the front of the Park County Complex when a man pulled up to the front sidewalk in a vehicle, exited the vehicle, approached the girls and stated that he was missing his black lab puppy and asked if they could help him find it.
The victim apparently told the man that she would help him and entered the front passenger side of the vehicle.
"I don't think this little girl did anything wrong," said Hertell. "He was tricky, he used a dog! I mean, wow!"
An Amber Alert was issued for the young girl shortly before 7 p.m.
At approximately 8:15 p.m., the girl was located walking down Spirit Mountain Road, located off the South Fork road, by a party of hunters hunting in the area. According to the Cody Police Department, the girl was sexually assaulted by the suspect on Carter Mountain and then he released her.
A news release from the CPD reported that the victim told police that when she approached the suspects vehicle, the man brandished a "pistol" and directed her to get into the front passenger seat of his vehicle.
The girl has been reunited with her family, but it's an ordeal that has left the community reeling and the man still at large.
"I think instead of jail he should be put right in the middle of main street and let all the residents of Cody have at him," said Ellington.
The Cody Police Department is asking for helping finding the suspect. The man is described as a white male, 55 to 60 years old, 185 to 200 pounds, with short strawberry blond or white hair. He has a neatly or newly trimmed beard or mustache. He was wearing a brown shirt, blue jeans and a tan baseball cap.
He was driving a white SUV with two grey leather seats in the front and a back compartment area that is open with a mattress on the floor.
Police say the man may be living out of his vehicle. There was a black and red backpack and a package of bottled water tied to a roof rack in the vehicle.
The community wants justice to be served, but they're thankful that the girl is at least at home.
"I can't even imagine how her parents are feeling and my heart goes out to them," Ellington said. "But thank God she's alive."
Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Cody Police Department at (307) 527-8700 or a local law enforcement agency.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation have been called in to assist with the investigation.