Child Abductee Safe Thanks to Alert Passerby

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Susan Wood ReportingA child is safe at home, his alleged kidnapper behind bars, and a passerby who likely saved the little boy's life is grateful.

The five-year old boy was abducted on his way home from school Thursday, and was found hours later in a cold campground up a central Utah canyon. Hours after that, a 20-year old Orem man, who police say left the boy in the canyon, was arrested by alert officers as the man returned to the campground.

The little boy is out of the hospital, treated for stab wounds and trauma after a very harrowing abduction. The five-year old was kidnapped as he rode his scooter home from Hobble Creek Elementary in Mapleton.

An alert sheriff's force and a couple of good samaritans may have saved his life.

At 6:45 Thursday night, Phillip Gardner drove past a little boy hiding in the bushes in the Diamond Fork area of Spanish Fork canyon. It had been more than three hours since the boy had disappeared on his way home from school.

911 Tape from Phillip Gardner: "Is there a little boy reported missing? …Anyway I just picked up this little boy at about six and he said he'd been kidnapped."

911 Call: “He finally looked at me and he says 'I’ve been kidnapped.' And then I realized that his hands were taped around his back. His hands were taped behind his back and his pants were undone and he’s got some little cuts on his arms. And he says the guy did it with a knife and it looks like they probably were done with a knife. His shirt’s all ripped up and tied around his neck. He said the guy was choking him with that shirt.”

Philip Gardner: "He told my son that when the guy threw him into the woods, that his feet were restrained by the tape, but he was able to free himself from that, and that's why he was able to walk around."

The boy told police the suspect cut him with a yellow tool that had a blade.

He cut him on his right arm and then started on the neck. He said, the suspect then opened his pants and cut his left leg.

Police say after Kartchner assaulted the boy, he left him in the woods, then went to work at an Orem business at 135 S. Mountain Way.

Workers here say Kartchner, a custodian, seemed normal and even helped one employee start her car.

Gardner said the boy thought the kidnapper was coming back; that's why he was hiding, afraid that Gardner's car was actually the kidnapper returning.

Well, the suspected kidnapper did return, at 12:45 Friday morning. The officers protecting the scene were suspicious of a green pickup truck that drove past. When they pulled it over, 20-year old Robert Allen Kartchner of Orem was behind the wheel.

Phillip Gardner: “I've got eight children, the youngest one's just a year old. As a parent that's all that really matters, as long as your children are okay. It feels good to know that you were there and could make a difference, I guess, probably a big difference in this little boy's life, I guess.”

Robert Kartchner is in jail. He faces aggravated kidnapping, assault and attempted murder charges. His bail was set at $250,000 cash. Kartchner will be in court on October 17th.

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