FBI: Girl held in local home
February 6, 2007
Staff and wire reports
The man who kidnapped a 10-year-old Oklahoma girl last month is believed to have held her overnight at a Clovis residence before releasing her at a city convenience store, authorities said Tuesday.
Marissa Graham of Texhoma, Okla., was recovered safely Jan. 19, but her abductor remains at large.
The FBI released new information about the Jan. 18 kidnapping based on several interviews with the girl. The bureau also announced a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect.
The suspect tied up Graham and placed her in his vehicle trunk in Amarillo before driving her to Clovis, FBI agent Michael Ward said Tuesday during an Oklahoma City press conference.
“Prior to exiting the trunk, a hood was placed over Graham’s face as she was taken inside the (Clovis) home,” Ward said. “Once inside, Graham was held for a period of time inside the closet.”
The girl told investigators she heard dogs barking loudly nearby and that there was a black cat with white paws inside the house, which the suspect referred to as “Whiskers.”
“He seemed comfortable (in the home), (Graham) said they spent a significant amount of time there,” said Special Agent Gary Johnson with the Oklahoma FBI.
Johnson said Graham heard the suspect interacting with others at the residence but did not report seeing or hearing anyone else.
The next day, Johnson said the suspect placed the girl in the back of a dark-colored purple or black SUV-type vehicle in the garage of the home and drove around the Clovis area.
Graham told investigators he stopped at a bank and took her to Dairy Queen, where he purchased them both food, sodas and ice cream, Johnson said.
The suspect pulled up next to an Allsup’s on Mabry Drive, told Graham he was going to release her and instructed her to go into the store, Johnson said.
The suspect pressed a trunk release button and the child climbed from the back and went into the store where clerks called Clovis police, Johnson said.
Authorities had earlier reported that the girl had kicked the car door open.
Graham was reunited with her parents Jan. 19 at the Clovis Police Department.
Ward did not say whether the girl was injured during her ordeal or what the suspect’s motive may have been.
“We’re not eliminating anything as to possible motives,” he said.
Graham was abducted about 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 18 while collecting donations for a basketball fund-raiser in Texhoma and was driven to Goodwell, Okla., where the suspect stopped near a grain elevator, said Ward.
Ward said the suspect also stopped in Dumas, Texas, and in Amarillo.
CNJ staff writer Sharna Johnson contributed to this report.
The following events occurred over the 18-hour period Marissa Graham was held captive by an unknown suspect:
—6:30 p.m. (CST) Jan. 18 — Marissa Graham, 10, was abducted near a park in her hometown of Texhoma, Okla.
—Goodwell, Okla. — The suspect stopped near a grain elevator and had a cell phone conversation with an unknown person, asking about media coverage and police response to the abduction.
—Dumas, Texas — The suspect stopped at a convenience store.
—Amarillo — The suspect exited off U.S. 287 in Amarillo and drove to a brick house with a black full-sized
pickup truck backed up to a garage.
—Isolated area near Amarillo — The suspect drove Graham to a
workshop where he bound her hands with duct tape and forced her into the trunk of the white car. He drove to Clovis.
—Clovis — Placing a hood over Graham’s head, the suspect walked her into a home where he placed her in a closet. She remembered loud, barking dogs and a black cat with white paws named “Whiskers.” They spent the night at the home.
—Clovis bank, Jan. 19— Placing Graham in the back of a dark-colored SUV kept in the garage, the suspect drove around Clovis, stopping at a bank. FBI Special Agent Gary Johnson said the timeline between the stop at the bank to Graham’s release was relatively short.
—Dairy Queen — The suspect bought himself and Graham a Blizzard, soda and food at the Dairy Queen on Mabry Drive.
—Allsup’s — Around 12:30 p.m., the suspect pulled up next to the Allsup’s on Mabry Drive and told Graham he was going to release her and to go into the store. He released the trunk latch, and she went in the store where she was recovered by Clovis police.
—A white male age 19 to 30. He was wearing blue jeans with a blue T-shirt with “Princeton” printed on the front in orange letters. He also wore a
red-hooded sweat shirt over his T-shirt at some point during the investigation.
—A reward of up to $25,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of the suspect. Calls can be made to (405) 290-7770 24 hours a day. Collect calls will be accepted. Callers can remain
Source: Oklahoma FBI