Just days after a 5-year-old girl was found bleeding and half-naked at her bus stop in St. Paul, police say another young girl was kidnapped and sexually assaulted.
Steve Linders, a spokesperson for the police department, tells BringMeTheNews the 7-year-old was reported missing Thursday around 6:45 p.m.
The girl's father told police that they had been checking on a property at the 300 block of Dayton Avenue. The father said he looked away for a minute, and his daughter was gone.
When police got the 911 call, they started searching the area and talking to witnesses. That led them to a building on the 200 block of Marshall Avenue, just one block away from where the girl had been.
Linders says police started to take down a door to get to the suspect but he eventually opened it, revealing the girl.
According to the spokesperson, there is reason to believe the girl had been sexually assaulted, however – unlike the case with he 5-year-old – the victim did not appear to suffer any other injuries.
The suspect has been arrested and identified as 47-year-old Mark Meihofer. He's been charged with kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct, according to Ramsey County Jail records.
Linders says officials have not yet figured out whether the cases are related, but investigators are looking into it.
The previous incident happened at the intersection of Cook Avenue and Park Street, a 10 minute drive from Thursday's crime.
Keeping kids safe
Linders tells BringMeTheNews that seeing two of these cases in just a week is "highly unusual."
He says it's very important that parents talk to their kids about "stranger danger." Parents should tell their children to run away and scream if anyone tries to take them or even if someone makes them uncomfortable.
Linders adds it's also important that everybody looks out for one another, noting that witnesses and police work played a vital role in finding these girls and getting them home safely.