TACOMA, Wash. – A third person has been charged in connection to the disappearance of a 15-year-old Bonney Lake teenager.
The girl who had been missing from her home since May 9 was found safe by police in Puyallup over the weekend. Q13 News is no longer identifying the underage girl now that she has been found safe.
The third person charged in the case faced a judge Monday afternoon and has been charged with child rape. William Pittman, of Tacoma, was being held on$500,000 bail after he pleaded not guilty to a charge of third-degree rape against a child.
The other two, Christopher Fitzpatrick, a convicted sex offender, and Maria Ann Counts were both charged last week with kidnapping, rape and sex trafficking the young girl.
“We’re all happy to know she’s now safe,” said Michael Leigh with the U.S. Marshal Service.
Investigators said someone reported seeing the teen at a bus stop in Puyallup on Sunday – which is where police recovered her and later reunited the child with her family.
“Her appearance had been changed; in other words, her appearance was different when she left her home on May 9,” said Bonney Lake Police Department officer Daron Wolschleger.
“I was just so excited, I was shaking,” said Damaris Kaufman, who volunteered to spread fliers about the missing girl.
“She was aware of the massive effort to locate her and bring her home safely,” Wolschleger said of the girl.
Investigators say they will continue trying to find out if the teen had been abused by more people during her 3-week disappearance – and promise to bring them to justice.
“We want to stress the importance of monitoring your child’s online and social media activity,” said Wolschleger. “We hope this entire incident is a good reminder and a good learning experience for everyone involved.”
The girl's mother had said she believed her daughter had left home on May 9 to see someone she had met through social media.