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Missing 6-year-old girl found safe, non-custodial parent taken into custody

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Posted at 10:24 PM, Aug 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-15 16:01:51-04

ST. GEORGE, Utah – A 6-year-old girl is home safe after police say the girl’s non-custodial parent took her from home and disappeared. The incident prompted a city-wide search by law enforcement and nearly triggered an Amber Alert.

It happened around 3:30 Friday afternoon. Police say Shane Robert Swenson visited the home of his daughter and her mother, but while the family was distracted, he left with the girl. The family searched for several hours before contacting police to say the girl had been kidnapped.

“We immediately began to saturate the area,” said St George police Sgt Sam Despain. “[We] talked to neighbors and businesses to do what we could to track them down.”

Police say Swenson suffers from mental health issues, and is homeless. Those facts added to concern that Swenson might have been trying to flee the area.

Tips from business owners led detectives to the area of South Bluff Street, where they found Swenson and the girl inside a McDonald’s restaurant around 10 p.m.

Despain said they were moments away from issuing an Amber Alert and an emergency alert call to residents in the area.

“We credit this to a great cooperation with the citizens of St. George and the local business owners for keeping an eye out,” Despain said.

Despain said Swenson fought with officers, but they ultimately took him into custody. The girl was found to be in good health and officers returned her to her mother.

Detectives are currently reviewing the circumstances surrounding the incident. They will then determine if charges will be filed. Swenson could face possible custodial interference or kidnapping charges.