5-year-old kidnapping victim is back home and doing well, father says
BEMIDJI, Minn.-A 5-year-old Bemidji girl police say was kidnapped has been reunited with her family and was doing well Friday, her father said.Brittany Balcer, 5, of Bemidji, was reported missing Wednesday after an overnight fire destroyed the tr...
BEMIDJI, Minn.-A 5-year-old Bemidji girl police say was kidnapped has been reunited with her family and was doing well Friday, her father said.
Brittany Balcer, 5, of Bemidji, was reported missing Wednesday after an overnight fire destroyed the trailer home of a family friend with whom she was staying. The child was found early Thursday morning and returned to her family that evening, her father Scott Balcer said.
"We are very grateful to have her back home; we are still in shock and have a lot of mixed emotions over what had happened," Balcer said Friday via Facebook message. "We are so amazed with our community, with the support and all who helped, working extensive hours to help bring her home safe."
Balcer said his daughter was "a lot better" Friday, and has been singing and playing with her brothers.
"I'm so proud of how strong Brittany is over this whole ordeal," Balcer said. "She is truly an inspiration to all of us."
The Bemidji Police Department and the Bemidji Fire Department both responded to a report of a fire at about 3:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Hillcrest Manor mobile home park, and found the house "fully engulfed" in flames. After firefighters gained control of the fire, they found an adult body and discovered that Brittany Balcer was missing. Scott Balcer identified the woman she was staying with, and who was killed, as Melissa Norby.
Police would not release information about the identity of the body or the cause of death Thursday, but acknowledged the victim was likely killed in a homicide.
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"This continues to be a complex and ongoing investigation," Bemidji Police Chief Mike Mastin said during a news conference Thursday. "We are looking at learning everything we can about this timeline, the motive and whether anyone else was involved. It does not appear to be, in this case, but we still want to be positive and explore that possibility."
A 32-year-old man was arrested for kidnapping Thursday in connection with the 5-year-old's disappearance. During the investigation, police identified Jacob William Kinn, of Bemidji, as a person of interest late Wednesday, according to Mastin and Sue Burggraf, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension special agent in charge. Kinn came to the Bemidji Police Department voluntarily for questioning Wednesday night. After interviewing him, police canvassed an area near Bigfork, Minn., where they believed Kinn had been and located Balcer alive at about 5:20 a.m. Thursday in a pop-up camper on land police believe belongs to Kinn's relatives.
Kinn was convicted of possessing child pornography in 2013. In February 2013, he posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a "2-9 year old" girl to pose in "skimpy outfits," seven months after bailing out of jail, where he was being held on six counts of child porn possession. Kinn was sentenced to 60 months in prison, which was stayed for five years; he served 120 days in Beltrami County Jail.
Kinn is currently being held in Beltrami County Jail awaiting formal charges and will appear at 11 a.m. Monday in court.