Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Grand jury indicts kidnapping suspect

TSA officer charged with abducting 10-year-old boy

Express Staff Writer

A grand jury has indicted an airport security officer on a second-degree kidnapping charge for allegedly abducting a 10-year-old Ketchum boy earlier this month.

The indictment will supersede a criminal complaint previously filed in Blaine County Magistrate Court against Robert Joe Harrison Jr., a 49-year-old employee of the federal Transportation Security Administration at Friedman Memorial Airport in Hailey.

Harrison was arraigned on the grand jury indictment Monday in Blaine County 5th District Court. He remained incarcerated in the Blaine County Jail on $500,000 bond.

He was arrested April 11 for allegedly enticing the boy, a Hemingway Elementary School student, into his vehicle on April 10 and releasing him later that day. Ketchum police reported that the boy was not physically harmed.

Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas said he convened the grand jury in order to streamline the legal process and to protect the alleged victim.

A grand jury indictment moves proceedings immediately into district court and eliminates the necessity of a lower court preliminary hearing, where a magistrate judge hears testimony to determine if there's enough evidence to send a case to district court for trial.

"We felt that given the fact that we have a 10-year-old witness, it would be less taxing on him," Thomas said.

He said a trial could be held as early as June.

Meanwhile, Harrison remains under investigation for other possible crimes.

At a Magistrate Court arraignment on April 12, Thomas cited possible past criminal activities by Harrison as a justification for setting bail at $500,000.

Thomas declined this week to elaborate. "At this time, all I can add is we (local law enforcement) are currently investigating the multiple criminal allegations against Mr. Harrison," he said.

TSA officials confirmed that Harrison is being investigated but declined to provide specifics. TSA has suspended Harrison without pay and revoked his government identification and credentials.

Authorities have also questioned Harrison's identity.

"The investigation revealed that four additional dates of birth and four additional social security numbers have been linked to him," says a court affidavit filed April 12 by Ketchum police officer R. Scott Manning. "It is not currently known which of these are truly his."

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