LOCAL NEWS

Missing Missouri girl found in St. George; noncustodial parent taken into custody

Mar 9, 2022, 1:52 PM | Updated: 1:54 pm
(St. Charles County Police Department)...

ST. GEORGE, Utah — A 7-year-old girl who was reported missing out of Missouri was safely located in St. George, Utah, on Wednesday.

Police in St. Charles County, Missouri, said the girl, Piper Johnson, was reported missing following a previously scheduled supervised visit at a local library branch on Monday with the suspect, Valarie Baker, who is Piper’s noncustodial parent.

Witnesses told authorities that Baker, 35, used physical force to take Piper from the library, forced Piper into her car and fled the area.

Police said a license plate reader observed Baker’s vehicle in Colorado, west of Denver and heading toward the Utah-Colorado border on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, police said Baker and Piper were located in St. George, Utah, and Baker was taken into custody without further incident.

“We are so pleased the little girl is safe,” St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar said. “She will be reunited with her grandparents as soon as possible. The complete disregard this mother showed for a court order and more importantly, for the safety and well-being of her own daughter is despicable. Now we can turn our attention toward sending a message that this sort of behavior cannot and will not be tolerated. We are incredibly appreciative of the dedication of all law enforcement officers involved. We also are especially thankful for the thousands of citizens who shared social media posts in an effort to find this little girl.”

Lohmar said Baker could face charges of interference with custody and misdemeanor assault in the fourth degree.

Under Missouri law, interference with custody is a class A misdemeanor unless the person taken or enticed away from legal custody is removed from this state, detained in another state or concealed, in which case it is a class E felony.

Lohmar said the investigation remains active, and other charges may be considered based upon additional evidence.

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Missing Missouri girl found in St. George; noncustodial parent taken into custody