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Abuse Is Added to Kidnap Charge

Riverside man is suspected of molesting the 5-year-old girl he's accused of abducting.

June 04, 2003|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

The man charged with abducting a 5-year-old Riverside girl Monday and taking her to Utah, where he was arrested hours later, has also been charged with sexually abusing her while she was held captive, police said Tuesday.

Charles William Mix, 48, waived his right to an extradition hearing in Utah and was flown back to Riverside County, where he was booked and jailed Tuesday, police said.

Mix, a family friend who lived with the girl and her father, was captured by police in Richfield, Utah, about seven hours after allegedly abducting the girl.

The Riverside district attorney's office said Mix has been charged with child abduction, kidnapping a child under 14 and kidnapping for purposes of committing sexual assault. The prosecutor handling the case said additional charges are likely.

"There was a sexual assault," Riverside police spokesman Felix Medina said. "Our detectives have obtained evidence to support that."

Medina declined to disclose the evidence that led to the charge.

Allison Nelson, the Riverside County supervising deputy district attorney of the sexual assault/child abuse unit, said Mix could face a life sentence in prison if convicted and is expected to be arraigned in Riverside County Superior Court on Thursday.

Richfield Police Officer Trent Lloyd and his partner, Officer Jim Brown, arrested Mix after police received a call from a 32-year-old mother of three. The woman became suspicious after spotting the long-haired Mix playing with the girl outside a Mormon church, and she called police on "a hunch," she said.

Lloyd said the girl was reunited in Utah with her mother, Sabrina Stansbury, 35, of Stanton, on Tuesday afternoon. Stansbury and the girl are expected to return home today.

Police said it has not been determined which parent will be granted custody. The Times is withholding the girl's name because of the allegation of sexual assault.

The 5-year-old was scheduled to be interviewed by a Riverside County social worker and undergo a medical examination today, according to the prosecutor handling the case.

The girl had been living with her father, Chris Clark, 36, for a year. Mix, a friend of Clark's, moved into the home about two months ago, police said.

Clark discovered she was missing around 8:30 a.m. Monday. Mix, who police say drove the girl to Utah in a truck he allegedly stole from his employer at Chino Airport, was spotted in Richfield at 3:30 p.m. after he discarded his white van, adorned with childlike drawings inside it, in San Bernardino.

In a letter left for the girl's father Monday morning, Mix said he was not pleased with how the girl was being raised, Medina said. A family friend described Clark as a wonderful parent.

After being notified of the alleged abduction, police issued a statewide Amber alert, a network that alerts law enforcement and uses road signs and television and radio broadcasts to publicize child abductions.

The recovery of the 5-year-old has generated a renewed debate regarding the efficiency of the Amber alert system.

Though Gov. Gray Davis praised the system, noting that all 33 California children who've been named in Amber alerts gave been found safely, the Utah police officer who rescued her said the alert never reached his office in Utah. If it had, he said, a police dispatcher would have immediately notified all officers of the missing girl.

"I only knew there was an Amber alert for her 45 minutes after she had been sitting in my police car," Lloyd said. "Certainly, if the citizen hadn't called us, we wouldn't have her, that's for sure."

Tom Marshall, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol, said there is not yet a nationwide Amber alert system in place.

He said the CHP issued a statewide Amber alert and informed police in the neighboring states of Oregon, Nevada and Arizona that the girl was missing.

"We would've called Utah, but there was no proof the kid was headed there," Marshall said.

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