UPDATE: Police say neighbors led them to Maryland man who met up with underage girl
A woman reported her 13-year-old daughter had run away from home during the day on Tuesday; it turns out she was meeting up with a man in his late 30's in a motel, according to police. They say a very observant neighbor led them to him.
Eden Lopez-Cruz, 37, traveled from Maryland to meet the teen, police say. They added that the investigation showed that the girl and Lopez-Cruz, had been in contact via a cell phone app and arranged the meet-up.
"It gets people really thinking that they need to be aware of what their children are doing and be cognizant of what's on their phones," said DeWitt Police Chief Mike Gute.
On Jan. 14, 2020, the DeWitt Charter Township Police made contact with a parent who had reported her daughter missing.
The woman told them that her 13-year-old had ran away from home.
After some investigation, police determined that she had gotten into a car with someone and left the house.
A neighbor that talked to the police was able to give a detailed description of the vehicle which lead to the location of the car.
"The neighbors that day, not only were they very cognizant of what was going on and being aware of their surroundings, they put to memory a suspect vehicle description that was phenomenal. Enough to the point where that provided my officers an opportunity to search for a particular vehicle and come up with a suspect and locate the victim," said Gute.
Gute says cases like these aren't easy and their help made a huge difference.
"It's like trying to find a needle in a haystack. But when you have that good (of) a description of a vehicle it really helps officers look for a certain vehicle- certain something specific," said Gute.
Lt. Jason Jones found a vehicle that matched the description at a motel in DeWitt Charter Township and made contact with those in the room, including Lopez-Cruz and the teenage girl.
"This is what it takes. Instead of communities and law enforcement being against each other, they need to come together and work together. That's the biggest thing," said Gute.
Lopez-Cruz admitted that he was in the country illegally for the past 20 years when he was questioned by police.
He was then arrested on multiple charges.
His arraignment was held at the 65A District Court in Clinton County on Wednesday.
He has been charged with the following:
Kidnapping child enticement, two counts second-degree criminal sexual conduct multiple variables, child abusive commercial activity, child sexual abusive material-possession, controlled substance possession (narcotic/cocaine) less than 25 grams, and children accosting for immoral purposes.
Lopez-Cruz was issued a bond of $350,000 and he may not leave the state of Michigan or have any devices that give him access to the internet, and no contact with anyone under the age of 16. He was not able to post bond.
The court has also ordered a sample of his DNA.