Officials say the man who kidnapped a 14-year-old girl from Davidson County and injured a police officer during a shootout Saturday was free on bond and communicating with other local young girls online.
In a press conference Monday, Davidson County Sheriff Richie Simmons said Savannah Grace Childress' kidnapper, 38-year-old William Robert Ice of Pennsylvania, communicated with Childress online. Ice died at a hospital Sunday after apparently turning a gun on himself after the shootout in Lonoke, Ark., state police there said.
Savannah went missing from her home in southern Davidson County on Feb. 11, according to a news release from the sheriff's office. Savannah's father was the last person to see her the day she went missing.
"After she didn’t pick up her younger sibling at the bus stop, she was reported missing, and we got into action at that time," Simmons said.
Authorities quickly learned that Savannah was using her school-issued computer to communicate with a person, whom investigators later identified as Ice. They determined that Ice also was communicating with five young girls in Alamance County.
The juveniles were interviewed and provided information which lead to Savannah's safe return, authorities said.
According to the Mahoning Valley Human Trafficking Task Force, Ice fled to Austintown, Ohio, in July while free on bond after an arrest related to an attempt to meet a female child. The meeting was part of a sting operation arranged by the Ohio-based task force. When officers approached, Ice fled — nearly running over them with his car. He was arrested several weeks later, according to WKBN, a TV station in Youngstown, Ohio.
Ice also was wanted in the sexual assault of a teenage girl in Pennsylvania on Feb. 9, according to the TV station.
In Savannah's disappearance, Davidson County deputies secured warrants against Ice for first-degree kidnapping and soliciting a child by computer.
With assistance from several law enforcement agencies across the country, investigators learned Ice might be in a red Dodge Durango in Lonoke, the sheriff's office said.
Around 8 p.m. Saturday, two Lonoke police officers on patrol recognized Ice's vehicle in a McDonald's parking lot and approached. Two people were spotted inside. Officers ordered the driver to get out of the vehicle.
Ice appeared as though he was complying, but as he got out, he aimed a gun at one of the officers and began shooting. That officer was wounded. The second officer returned gunfire as Ice got back into the car and fled.
An Arkansas State Highway Patrol trooper in the area heard a report of an officer down and spotted the suspect vehicle leaving the McDonald's, leading the trooper to pursue Ice through Lonoke. Ice's vehicle eventually became disabled in a snowbank.
Savannah fled the car and was taken to safety by a trooper, the sheriff's office said.
Inside the vehicle, Ice was found critically injured from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He died at a nearby hospital on Sunday, according to the sheriff's office.