By Clair McFarland, Cowboy State Daily
The 14-year-old Casper girl whose disappearance prompted a multi-state Amber Alert after she left town with a 36-year-old man Wednesday was found late Friday in Arizona.
Wyoming’s Amber Alert coordinator told Cowboy State Daily the arrangement was a suspected “grooming situation.”
The man, 36-year-old James Martin, was taken into custody Friday pursuant to an interstate warrant, according to Casper Police Department Lt. Jeff Bullard.
Graceyln Pratt, 14 was reported as a runaway after skipping school Wednesday. Authorities dispatched an Amber Alert to Wyoming and Montana on Thursday, as it was believed the pair were headed north.
Bullard said Saturday that police “got some leads really late last night” indicating that Martin and Pratt were traveling in Arizona.
Law enforcement in Arizona made contact with the pair and, Bullard believed but was unable to confirm early Saturday, activated the Amber Alert system in the area. When the vehicle was spotted again Friday evening in what Bullard called an “active sighting,” law enforcement converged on the area, found the vehicle and took both the girl and the man into custody.
Pratt is in the custody of the Arizona Department of Family Services and will soon be back with her family, Bullard said.
“We’re actively working on plans to get her home and reunited with her family and making sure she is cared for the best way she can be moving forward,” he said.
Because their flight crossed state lines, the FBI has taken over the investigation. Martin remains in law enforcement custody.
The interstate warrant for his arrest claims a charge of “interference with custody,” said Bullard, adding that he does not know what charge the FBI might recommend for Martin.
“I’m very grateful to all of the law enforcement agencies that have assisted in this investigation,” said Bullard. “We had law enforcement agencies in several other states following up on leads for us.”
Bullard extended a “huge thank you” to the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation and the FBI “for all the resources they poured into this investigation. Without that partnership and without those resources we would not have been successful, I don’t think.”
“I’m waking up to some very good news this morning,” said Bullard of the resolved search.