Homeless man sentenced for stealing SUV with girl, 6, inside from Wichita liquor shop

A homeless man has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison for stealing a Lexus SUV with a little girl inside from a Wichita liquor store parking lot in 2022.

Benjamin K. Brady, 35, pleaded guilty on Dec. 18 to attempted kidnapping and felony theft, court records show. Sedgwick County District Judge Eric Williams on Tuesday ordered him to serve 51 months in prison for abducting the girl plus an additional seven months for taking the unlocked, running vehicle from outside Davis Liquor, 2303 N. Amidon, on Nov. 20, 2022.

The girl was eventually found unharmed and reunited with relatives who spent a terrified hour wondering if she was safe.

In court Tuesday, the girl’s father said that his daughter’s kidnapping “was the worst nightmare of my life” and described being overcome with fear when he found her and the SUV gone when he walked out of the store around 6:45 p.m.

He told police he left his then 6-year-old daughter alone in the back passenger seat because she “was asleep” and “he wanted her to be warm” while he shopped, an affidavit released by the court says.

During his short absence, Brady got into the driver’s seat and took off after buying a can of beer, the affidavit says.

Wichita police used their Flock license plate reader system to quickly find and track the stolen SUV to the Kansas Turnpike and into Oklahoma. At 8:10 p.m., an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper found the Lexus about 22 miles south of the Kansas-Oklahoma border, stopped it and immediately arrested Brady. The girl was still sitting in the back seat.

Brady later told authorities he had stolen the SUV because he was “homeless and cold,” according to the affidavit. He said he headed south, toward Oklahoma City, “because the homeless people were nicer there.”

Brady told authorities he realized he wasn’t alone in the SUV after he “got on the road and looked back and saw” the girl. He told authorities he kept driving while “he was trying to figure out what to do,” the affidavit says.

When police interviewed the girl about what happened, she said she remembered being alone in the car when a stranger got inside. She told police Brady asked for her name and told her his — and she said that she “was scared.”

But the girl told authorities Brady never touched her and left her alone in the vehicle only for a short time while he stopped to use the bathroom, the affidavit says.

Before Brady’s sentencing hearing was over, the girl’s mother told the judge she wanted him to say aloud “what his intentions were” so her daughter could understand why this happened when she was older.

She and the girl’s father both asked the judge to keep their daughter’s best interest in mind when he handed down Brady’s punishment. The Eagle is not naming the parents to protect the girl’s identity.

Williams told them defendants could speak at their sentencing hearings — but Brady had chosen not to. There would be no new revelations for them.

Williams did offer some consolation, though.

“I’ve given this defendant as much time (in prison) as this court is able to give him,” he said.