CITRUS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A 20-year-old Inverness man is charged with kidnapping after he allegedly dragged an 8-year-old girl from her home.
Citrus County Sheriff’s Office deputies said sometime between Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning, Jeffrey Story knocked on the girl’s window and she opened it. The suspect then grabbed the victim by her wrist and dragged her from the room.
“We found evidence where the screen had been forcibly removed from the child’s bedroom window along with pieces of other evidence on scene,” Captain Brad Smith, from the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, said.
Story was wearing dark clothing and dark gloves, and had part of his face covered, deputies said.
According to the arrest report, Story took the child to the garage of his nearby home. Deputies said he taped her mouth and then briefly left the room. Investigators said she used the opportunity to make a run for it.
“She was able to get away and flee the scene and run back to her house,” Captain Smith said.
Story chased behind the victim as she screamed. She made it home, but Story delivered a chilling message. He threatened to come back tomorrow and ship her out of the country if she told anyone.
“The child was too afraid to tell anyone, but she went into her mother’s room and slept with her for the remainder of the night. Her mother told detectives that this was very unusual behavior for her daughter,” deputies said.
The little girl did tell a teacher at Lecanto Primary School Wednesday. The teacher notified a school resource officer.
Investigators do not believe the girl was harmed in any way.
In addition to kidnapping, Story is charged with burglary with battery. He is being held on no bond for a probation violation. He was given a $75,000 bond for the other charges. If he bonds out, he’ll be fitted with a GPS monitor.
“We hope to determine through this investigation what this man’s full intentions were in taking this little girl,” Capt. Brad Smith of the Major Crimes Division said. “We just can’t express how thankful we are that she is safe.”
“Thank God this little girl was brave enough to try to escape,” Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said today. “She was also brave enough to speak up and tell her story to an adult. This is a very sick individual who should be put away for a very long time.”
A 6-year-old child lives in the same house as Story. “Detectives will be investigating whether or not Story had contacted this child in any way,” deputies said.
People who live in this area are shocked to learn it happened in their quiet town. “That’s like sick to think about honestly,” Inverness resident Tryston Spence said. “That’s somebody’s little sister, daughter, something.”
“It could have turned out a lot worse for her,” Spence said. “That’s just sick to think about. I’m just glad that everything turned out the way it was supposed to and no one was hurt or anything like that.”