SALEM - Salem police found a 14-year-old missing runaway girl in a vacant apartment on Ellsworth Avenue Thursday morning after noticing an extension cord outside leading from the first story to an upstairs window.
Lacy Crowe, of East Third Street, had been reported missing Monday afternoon by her parents, Les Crowe and Tamara Egolf, when she failed to return home after school.
On Wednesday, police Chief J.T. Panezott and Det. Brad Davis sought the public's help in finding her, with a news story appearing Thursday morning.
Panezott said she was taken into custody on a warrant for an unruly charge through Juvenile Court and was being transported to the Louis Tobin Attention Center in Lisbon. Davis explained that it's not unusual in a case like this for a warrant to be issued, noting that he advises parents to file unruly charges in cases of missing/runaway juveniles.
Mark Knight Jr., 26, of 435 N. Ellsworth Avenue, apt. 2, was taken into custody for obstructing official business after he tried to leave the scene at the apartment when told to stay put by police. Panezott said more charges could be filed depending on the outcome of the investigation.
Police received a tip early Thursday morning when a patrolman was approached by some newspaper carriers who thought they saw the missing teen at 435 N. Ellsworth Ave. with Knight. Later in the morning, Panezott, Davis, Patrolman Mike Garber and Sgt. John Scheets arrived at the house to find Knight leaving in a car.
The vehicle was stopped and Panezott said he denied any knowledge of the juvenile being around and gave police consent to search his downstairs apartment. Nothing was found, then officers walked outside and could see the extension cord plugged in downstairs and going to an upstairs window.
Knight allegedly told police the apartment was vacant and it was padlocked. They went upstairs and found the hasp on the padlock and the screws were unsecured, able to be turned with a finger.
Panezott said they loosened the padlock, went into the apartment and found a mattress on a floor in one of the bedrooms, along with girls' clothing, a girl's purse and girls' shoes. Panezott said he then turned around and found the girl standing behind the door.
In the meantime, Knight was outside and tried to leave by walking away. He was told to stop by Garber and then ran around the apartment entry. He was ordered back after he met and exchanged words with his father. An affidavit said he claimed not to hear the officer's instructions. He was taken to the Columbiana County jail.
Panezott said they're continuing to investigate what happened and the relationship between Knight and the girl. When she was first reported missing, Knight's apartment was searched and nothing was found.
"We're very pleased with the public's outpouring of support for the family and for helping us," he said.
Davis said Lacy's missing poster was shared 2,000 times online and the department received calls from all over the area with possible tips.