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Abducted Bakersfield 11-year-old found safe in Utah

 Abducted Bakersfield 11-year-old found safe in Utah
Posted at 6:24 PM, Mar 19, 2024

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — According to KCSO, 30-year-old Joshua Michael Stehle coerced the child through an online platform and was found in Utah by the Salina Police Department.

(Editor's Note: This article will be updated with more information. We are also not sharing victim's name or picture due to their age.)

  • According to a press release by the Salina Police Department and a press conference by the Kern County Sheriff's Office, a Bakersfield 11-year-old was found safe after being allegedly abducted by 30-year-old Joshua Michael Stehle.
  • According to Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, Stehle allegedly coerced the child through an online platform and had a gun when Salina Police Officers made contact with him in Utah.
  • Youngblood said the child was reported missing at approximately 5:30 a.m. on March 17 and was deemed missing under suspicious circumstances shortly thereafter. Youngblood said detectives used technology to figure out the potential route of Stehle and the young girl and relayed the information to local law enforcement agencies in Utah where he was apprehended.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

On March 17th, an 11-year-old was reported missing under suspicious circumstances right here in Bakersfield, and now she's home safe and physically unharmed.

According to a release from the Salina City Police Department in Utah:

30 -year-old Joshua Michael Stehle, a Colorado resident, was suspected to be the child's abductor. Officers with SPD found Stehle's vehicle traveling through the state, pulled his the vehicle over, took him into custody on Sunday without incident, and took the child to safety with the help of the Utah Department of Child and Family Services.

Kern County Sheriff's Office is leading the investigation with help from the Sevier County Sheriff's Office in Utah.

KSCO Sheriff Donny Youngblood held a press conference Tuesday afternoon to share details about the case.

"Deputies then did more surveillance with using the technology that's available to us and discovered that he left California, was in Utah. Contacted authorities in Salina, Utah, and within 30 minutes they had the vehicle stopped. They had the suspect in custody, and they had the 11-year-old girl secure," said Youngblood.

Sheriff Youngblood said the child was coerced by Stehle through an online platform and had a gun in the vehicle when Salina PD made contact on Sunday. Youngblood also noted the child had been missing for approximately 40 hours leading up to the suspect's arrest.

"From the time that she was reported missing. The time that she was recovered. It's about 40 hours," said Youngblood. "At 5:30 a.m. she was reported missing — so she had — but she had been missing since two in the morning. So, during that period of time, we don't know what transpired, or at least I don't know what transpired. But we do know that his vehicle left the location in Bakersfield at about 3:30 in the morning."

Youngblood said the Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer is working with authorities in Utah to extradite Stehle back to Kern County to face several charges including kidnapping, false imprisonment, and child molestation.

According to the release from SPD, Stehle is being held in Sevier County Jail in Utah.


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