Michael Patrick Buckley, a 30-year-old Colorado man, was arrested Wednesday after police said they located a missing child at his Jefferson County home.
Buckley was charged with sexual assault on a child and booked in Jefferson County Jail, where he is being held on $100,000 bond, according to police records.
Police: Michael Patrick Buckley Assaulted Missing Girl
The 11-year-old, whose name is being withheld, reportedly disappeared Tuesday afternoon. A police affidavit states that the child’s parents reported her missing after she went to nearby Countryside Park and didn’t return home.
Authorities issued an Amber Alert for the 11-year-old and launched a search party which lasted into the next morning.
Early on Wednesday, according to the affidavit, a contractor working at a home near Countryside Park told police he was approached by a girl who fit the missing child’s description at about 3:15 p.m. the previous day. The contractor said he let the girl use his phone to call a man she described as her “boyfriend.”
About 20 minutes later, the witness said, the girl returned to use his phone again. He said she claimed to be 23 years old, which he “did not believe” because “she looked much younger.” The girl also said she had met her “boyfriend” recently through Craigslist, where he was selling pet rats, the contractor told police.
When a man arrived to pick up the girl, the quick-thinking witness snapped a photo of his vehicle and license plate. Police said they used those photos — and the phone number the girl had called — to identify the man as Michael Patrick Buckley.
Authorities said they arrived at Buckley’s Jefferson County home on Wednesday afternoon. When Buckley answered the door, according to police documents, an officer called out the 11-year-old’s name and heard her respond that she was getting dressed. She also allegedly told investigators that the 30-year-old had made sexual contact with her “several times.”
Police said that Buckley was arrested at the scene. He reportedly told authorities that there was evidence on his phone that the 11-year-old had been “portraying herself as an adult.”
Family of Missing 11-Year-Old ‘Grateful’
The Amber Alert was canceled when Buckley was arrested.
Through Westminster police, the child’s family issued a statement requesting privacy and thanking witnesses for their assistance.
“We are so grateful to have [our child] home and safe,” the statement read. “It is very comforting to know that families like ours are supported by a close-knit community and overwhelming response from the Westminster Police Department along with all the other first responder agencies who step up to help.”
“We just want to offer the biggest thanks to all who helped us in a time of need,” the family added.
Citing the ongoing investigation, police declined to offer more details of the child’s alleged abduction.
“We know there is inherent interest in this case and what occurred over the last couple of days,” Investigator Cheri Spottke wrote in a press release dated Thursday. “This is an open and ongoing case, and to protect the integrity of the investigation, we will not be releasing any additional information.”