Police Search Kidnap Suspect's Home

Police Search Kidnap Suspect's Home

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah County authorities have searched the home of an Orem man suspected in the kidnapping of a 5-year-old Mapleton boy who was snatched on his way home from school and then left with knife wounds at a campground, police said.

But detectives had ceased questioning 20-year-old Robert Allen Kartchner after he invoked his right to an attorney, Utah County sheriff's Sgt. Yvette Rice said Saturday. A motive in the case remained unknown.

Ben Bladh on Thursday was found gagged and bound by black electrical tape about four hours after he went missing by a man working in the Diamond Fork area of Spanish Canyon, about 15 miles from Mapleton. The boy's red T-shirt also had been ripped.

Authorities on Saturday executed search warrants in the case, including one at Kartchner's home, Rice said. She had no information on what, if any, evidence was found.

It probably will be at least Tuesday before prosecutors file charges against Kartchner, who remained in the Utah County Jail on $250,000 cash-only bond on suspicion of aggravated kidnapping, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and attempted aggravated murder, Rice said.

Authorities allege Kartchner kidnapped Ben and drove him 15 miles to the Diamond Fork campground, where he cut the boy's arm, neck and thigh, choked him with the remains of his T-shirt, then picked him up and threw him into the woods.

A passer-by found the boy hiding along a dirt road in Spanish Fork Canyon about 7 p.m. Thursday, with his feet free but his hands still taped. He took the boy to a nearby cabin and called police.

Kartchner was arrested after he drove past the Diamond Fork campground about 1 a.m. and was stopped by a deputy who realized his green truck matched the description given by the boy. Police said he confessed to kidnapping the boy during questioning.

Neighborhood residents held a candlelight vigil to support the boy and his family Friday night and have started a toy drive for him, a resident said.

Rice said she did not know if an attorney had been appointed to represent Kartchner, who has no criminal history. He is next set to appear Friday in 4th District Court.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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