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Sandy family recounts terrifying kidnapping ordeal

Sandy family recounts terrifying kidnapping ordeal

(Scott G Winterton/Deseret News)

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Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

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SANDY — When Aaron Edson approached the man who just moments earlier had allegedly grabbed his 5-year-old daughter out of her bed and was walking away with her, he said there was no yelling or violent confrontation.

"I just walked up to him and held out my arms and he just handed her over, just peacefully and calmly. And no one's voice ever got raised," Edson said.

On Monday, he and his wife, Stephanie, talked to ABC's Good Morning America about how the most frantic and terrifying event in their lives — an incident that still brings tears to their eyes as they recount what happened — was resolved last Friday with an unbelievable calm and collected confrontation with the suspect, 46-year-old Troy Morley.

"I said, 'What are you doing?' He gave a story that he was in trouble and if he had her with him they wouldn't kill him. And he kept on repeating this story that he needed to get to a church and that as long as she was with him he would be safe. And I said, 'Look, I want to help you. But you can't take her,'" Aaron Edson said.

Moments earlier, police believe Morley wandered into the Edsons' Sandy home after finding an unlocked door. Investigators believe he tried several doors on Rembrandt Lane before coming across the Edsons' home completely at random. When Morley, who is believed to have never seen 5-year-old Lainey Edson before that day, saw the young girl sleeping in her basement room, he grabbed her and walked out the door.

Stephanie Edson says for whatever reason, she woke up at 4 a.m. that day.

"I'm not tired. I'm awake. This is weird. And I was fully, mentally alert. And because I was awake, I was able to hear the things that were able to save my daughter," she said Monday.

It was her voice without her walk, and I knew something was wrong. I yelled to Aaron, 'She's outside. She's outside.' And I ran to the basement and I'll never forget it: her bedroom door was open, her light was on and her bed was empty.

–Stephanie Edson, mother

Specifically, Edson said Lainey has a "minor physical handicap" and a certain gait when she walks.

"It was her voice without her walk, and I knew something was wrong. I yelled to Aaron, 'She's outside. She's outside.' And I ran to the basement and I'll never forget it: her bedroom door was open, her light was on and her bed was empty," Stephanie Edson said while holding back tears.

That's when Aaron Edson ran outside and confronted Morley, who he said was still in his yard, holding his daughter and walking away. After the daughter was returned to her father uninjured, police say Morley ran a couple of blocks and then into another home at random when he realized officers were closing in. Sandy police, with help from their K-9s, took Morley into custody in a backyard.

Morley was arrested for investigation of child kidnapping, burglary, trespassing, interfering with an arrest and failing to follow the commands of an officer. He was being held Monday in the Salt Lake County Jail on more than $500,000 bail. The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office was expected to review the case for formal charges by late Monday or Tuesday.

Officers actually began investigating Morley several hours before the alleged kidnapping, about 1:30 a.m., when Morley walked into a hotel off 10600 South near Automall Drive and asked the desk clerk to call police because he was in "imminent danger," said Sandy Police Sgt. Dean Carriger.

On Monday, Carriger said detectives had not found any evidence to support the claim that anyone was after him that night. Police also did not have any information Monday as to whether Morley was using any drugs or alcohol that night or if he has any type of mental illness.

Lainey's parents say the upcoming holiday season will be even more special for their family this year.

"We have had a very close call and it's been something we wouldn't wish upon anyone. But if it has to happen, this is the way that it needs to end. It's just perfect. We're so grateful for it," Aaron Edson told the national TV audience. "If there's any good to come of this, it's this Thanksgiving will be a little more special for us."

Edson said his family's story is a good reminder for all families to be grateful for the things they have and the people in their lives.


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Pat Reavy


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