A 7-year-old girl playing outside a Puyallup apartment complex Wednesday night was lured into nearby woods where she was choked and sexually assaulted, police said Thursday.
Because of the girl’s injuries, she had to be carried out of the woods once a bloodhound led officers to her. She identified her attacker as a 14-year-old neighbor boy, and police arrested the teen.
“We’re blessed that she was found safe,” Police Chief Bryan Jeter said. “She’s a very brave, strong lady and we wish her the best in her recovery.”
The girl was taken to Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma, where she was in stable condition and improving Thursday, police said.
She was playing with other children at the Glenbrooke apartment complex in the 700 block of 43rd Avenue Southeast when she went missing. Family and friends began looking for her about 6 p.m. and called police for help about 8 p.m.
Police and Central Pierce Fire & Rescue personnel canvassed the complex and completed a door-to-door search before expanding the search and later calling in the bloodhound.
Just before midnight, a resident helping with the search found a shoe at the edge of a wooded area just north of the complex. The bloodhound found the girl about 20 minutes later. She was carried to where she could be treated by medical workers.
After the girl identified the 14-year-old as her attacker, police served a search warrant at the teen’s apartment and arrested him about 4:45 a.m. He was booked into Remann Hall Juvenile Detention Center in Tacoma. Pierce County prosecutors were expected to decide Friday whether to charge the teen.
It’s unclear whether the boy knew the girl or if he was among the children playing outside before she went missing, police said.
Officers dealt with the boy last week when he was assaulted at the complex in an unrelated incident, Jeter said.
The Glenbrooke complex is several-acres of townhouse-style apartments about two blocks east of South Meridian. Thursday, as news of the attack circulated through the complex, it became the main topic of conversation.
Kim Bogue, who said she has lived at Glenbrooke five years, said the apartments have always seemed like a safe place to live.
“We’ve never had any problems really,” she said. “I can’t believe it. It’s crazy.”
Bogue said she gathered with about 30 other neighbors about midnight Wednesday as the police bloodhound searched the wooded area north of the complex.
“A chaplain came over and everybody got in a circle and said a prayer,” she said. “Then everybody went up to the mom to give her hugs and tell her how sorry we were that it happened and to tell her everything will be OK.”
“When we heard them say, ‘We found her. She needs medical attention,’ everybody cheered,” Bogue said. “When the hound dog that found her came out, everybody started clapping for the dog.”
Carrie Kitchell, another Glenbrooke resident, said she knew something was wrong when she returned to her apartment after work Wednesday.
“I pulled in and I saw people in groups of two or three walking around,” she said. “That was kind of weird.
“Right away somebody asked me, ‘Have you seen a little black girl around the age of 7?’ ”
Kitchell has a little boy who’s 3, and she said the incident made her more protective of him.
“I was scared to let him play by himself anyway,” she said, adding that because a young neighbor had been accused of the attack, “I don’t want my son ever playing outside by himself. It could have easily happened to any kid.”Stacia Glenn: 253-597-8653
Rob Carson: 253-597-8693