Local News

Missing Rocky Mount Girl Found Safe In Iowa

Posted September 27, 2005

— Rocky Mount authorities confirmed late Tuesday that a 12-year-old who went missing from her home last Friday, had been found in Des Moines, Iowa.

Des Moines police found the girl at the city's bus station shortly after 9 p.m. EDT. She had called her grandfather, who then called the FBI, which notified police in Des Moines. She was by herself and unharmed, officials said.

The girl was taken to Broadlawns Medical Center for examination, said Des Moines Police Sgt. Brian Vance, adding that there were no signs of physical injury.

"Of course, she was emotionally distraught at this time," Vance said.

State authorities issued an

Amber Alert

last Friday afternoon for the girl, who disappeared from her home early Friday morning. Rocky Mount police believe she had been with a convicted sex offender, 27-year-old

Phillip Denkler

.

Authorities have issued warrants for Denkler, charging him with felony child abduction and probation violation. Denkler is about 6 feet 1 inches tall and weighs about 150 pounds. He has straight, short, black hair and brown eyes.

Police said they believe Denkler may be driving a 2005 beige Hyundai Sonata with North Carolina license plate

PSA-2000

or

NWN-2630

. Anyone with information on Denkler's whereabouts should contact the FBI, Rocky Mount Police Department, at

(252) 972-1411

or call

911

.

Authorities said Denkler first met the girl two years ago when he worked at a convenience store on the outskirts of Rocky Mount. He later spent eight months in prison after being convicted of taking indecent liberties with a 14-year-old girl. He spent another two months for failing to register as a sex offender.

Authorities have not said when they expect the girl to return to Rocky Mount.

"The hugest weight has been lifted off my shoulders," said Kim Baker, her mother, Tuesday night. "All the prayers I've been praying have been answered. She's safe and she'll be back soon. I think we'll all be fighting to see who hugs her first. I don't think I'll let her go for a couple of hours."

Earlier Tuesday, Rocky Mount Police Chief John Manley held a news conference with the FBI and the girl's grandmother.

"We view this investigation as a very serious matter," Manley said. "The information that (she) may have left voluntarily does not negate the seriousness or the fact that (she) has been abducted by Phillip Denkler."

After five days with relatively few leads, the case had turned into a nationwide search with Amber Alerts issued in at least nine other states. Authorities had also contacted the Mexican Border Patrol and authorities in Canada.

Fox's

"America's Most Wanted"

had also become involved and had been in Rocky Mount Tuesday filming a segment to run on its television show.

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