ELMA, Wash. -- A 23-year-old man is behind bars after a 12-year-old girl's mother allegedly spotted the man and the girl in the backseat of a car near her home engaged in a sexual act, with the mother using "physical force" to stop the man from leaving once she confronted him, deputies said.
Early Monday morning, the mother heard the girl leave their home in the 1500 block of Bailey Road in Elma without her parent's permission, Grays Harbor County sheriff's deputy Steve Shumate said. The mother reported the girl missing to the Elma Police Department, and later noticed a suspicious 2012 Honda Civic parked just off the road.
From her home, the mother spotted two people in the back seat of the Honda and she walked outside to find it was her daughter and the man, Shumate said. The mother had her daughter "removed" from the car, and a "discussion" occurred between the man and the mother "regarding the age of the child," Shumate said.
Deputies said the man tried to drive off, but the mother used physical force to restrain him and grabbed his keys. Police arrived and arrested the man a short time later. He was taken to Grays Harbor County Jail and booked for suspicion of second-degree child rape.
The girl was taken to an area hospital for treatment and examination, deputies said.
The suspect, a member of the military stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, is originally from Texas, deputies said. He allegedly met the girl on the instant messaging application known as KIK, a chatting app popular with teens and young adults. The app has previously come under fire for allowing child predators easy access to children.
Detectives are working with military investigators to see if there are potentially more victims. This is an ongoing investigation.