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Eric Shotwell

Eric Shotwell

Minerva, Ohio — A 41-year-old Ohio man today remains held in the Stark County Jail in Canton after being charged Thursday with charges related to the kidnapping of a 14-year-old girl from West Plains, Mo.
Eric T. Shotwell, 41, of Minerva, Ohio, 16 miles from Canton, is charged with kidnapping, assault and two counts of rape. Minerva police say more charges could be filed. Charges also are pending from the Howell County, Mo., Prosecutors Office “for crimes committed” in Missouri. The FBI is also investigating.
Shotwell’s Ohio arraignment was held this afternoon with Shotwell appearing by video from the Stark County Jail. Shotwell did not enter a plea. Court records Friday didn’t list an attorney for him. Initially Shotwell’s bond was set at $51,000, but at the urging of the prosecution, Judge Andrew Zumbar increased it to $500,000. His next hearing is scheduled for March 23.
Minerva police say investigators found the girl met Shotwell online through the “SayHi” smartphone app.  Minerva police believe they talked online for a couple of months before Shotwell came to West Plains to meet her and take her back to his home. West Plains Police Detective Bryan Brauer said, “The bottom line, you just have to watch your children and see what they’re doing now in these apps, because that’s what most of these stem from; how they make contact, through the Internet, online chat rooms and apps.”
West Plains Police said they took a report that the 14-year-old girl had gone missing or run away from her home on March 11.The girl initially had been reported missing from her home about 4:45 p.m. March 11. Her grandparents told police they saw her last at 2 p.m. that day, Police entered the information into the National Crime Information Center computer database, listing her as a “missing/runaway juvenile.”
Shotwell and the girl arrived at his home in Minerva on March 12, two days later. The girl reportedly never left the house while he was working at a bag manufacturing company in Canton. Shotwell cooked her meals.
The prosecution Friday said Shotwell “held her against her will, repeatedly raping her, and injuring her and beating her.”
The girl late Thursday morning sent a text message to her mother, and Stillwater police were contacted. That failed to yield results.
At about 2:45 p.m. Thursday the mother reported to West Plains Police that she had received a brief phone call from her daughter, who indicated she was afraid and didn’t know where she was. West Plains Police immediately relayed the information to Minerva Police, who found the girl at about 3:30 p.m. at Shotwell’s home. At 3:34 p.m., Minerva Officer Chuck Kopp called West Plains detectives to report that the teen was “safe and presently in custody.”
Police took the girl to Akron Children’s Hospital to be treated and then to the Multi-County Juvenile Attention Center for a safe place to stay until Children’s Services could make arrangements with her mother to get her home.
West Plains Detective Joe Neuschwander said he wanted to thank Minerva police as well as Carroll and Tuscarawas county sheriff’s deputies, who assisted in the investigation.
The house in Minerva, Ohio, where the 14-year-old girl from West Plains was held captive.

The house in Minerva, Ohio, where the 14-year-old girl from West Plains was held captive.

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