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A police officer has been fired after he searched the hotel room where a kidnapped 8-year-old girl was being held captive — and somehow failed to find her.
Officer Richardson Wolfe, of Forest Hill, Tex., was placed on indefinite suspension — the civil service equivalent of termination — for mishandling the case of the Forth Worth girl, who was later brought to safety. Forest Hills Police Chief Dan Dennis confirmed that Wolfe was released from the department on Wednesday, according to NBC 5.
Wolfe had responded to an emergency call at a hotel, WoodSprings Suites, just after midnight on May 19. An hour before, an Amber Alert had been sent out for the kidnapping of the girl, who was snatched by a man later identified as Michael Webb, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Webb dragged the child into his car, and when her mother jumped in to try to fight off the kidnapper, he threw her out of the vehicle and drove off, said police.
A person at WoodSprings Suites recognized Webb from the Amber Alert and notified a desk clerk, who called police. Wolfe allegedly knocked on Webb’s hotel room door first, noting that he was “less than cooperative” but eventually let the police inside.
“Upon entry into the room, the officers made visual inspection of the areas of the room that appeared to be large enough to conceal the missing child,” said police in a press release. “They did not locate any other occupants inside the room. With no one located and no other information available, the officers cleared the scene.”
But Forest Hill police received another tip, and two hours later, at about 2am, more officers returned to Webb’s hotel room. About six minutes later, Fort Worth police officers arrived too, according to the Star-Telegram. “The child was located with Michael Webb a short time later,” police confirmed.
The tip that led to the rescue of the little girl came in from Jeff King, a local pastor who was friends with the girl’s parents. King had asked a detective if there was anything he could do to help find the missing girl, and the detective told him to check parks, hotels and apartments.
"We had been checking parks all night and [WoodSprings Suites] was the second hotel we checked," King said in a press conference. “I feel like God allowed me to be a tool.”
Meanwhile, Webb was charged with aggravated kidnapping and six counts of sexual assault of a child. He was expected to plead guilty but changed his mind at the eleventh hour and will now cop his plea on June 26, according to CBS 11. He faces 20 years to life in prison.
Forest Hills Police are expected to release further details about the case as soon as they can.
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