Law enforcement officials in Idaho have agreed to extradite a man wanted for lewd conduct with a child under the age of 16.
Muskogee County deputies arrested Franklin Payton, 58, this week.
The Muskogee County Sheriff's Office says a 3-year-old girl in Haskell who had been missing for 40 minutes was found naked under a bed in a home where Payton was living with his mother.
"We found the 3-year-old under a bed. It was completely naked," Muskogee County Sheriff Charles Pearson said.
They considered the woman who lived there to be a grandma, and the kids knew Payton as "Uncle Frank."
Pearson says the little girl and her 6-year-old brother were at the home frequently, because their home had no electricity and no running water.
Pearson says several Haskell residents had contacted his office with concerns about Payton last month. He says his office discovered Payton was a fugitive from Idaho, but says Idaho authorities declined to extradite because of budget constraints.
Resident Amanda Rodgers said she became suspcious when a strange man moved to her neighborhood.
"I gotta do what I gotta do, I protect my kids and I've lived in Haskell my entire life and I was raised here, so I didn't just protect my kids, I was protecting everyone else's kids around here," Rodgers said.
"Ya know, I'd hear bits and pieces of, 'Well he's running from this,' or it was always something different or they didn't want anyone knowing about him," Rodgers said.
Rodgers found information online that Franklin Payton was wanted in Idaho for lewd conduct with a minor.
So she called the Muskogee County Sheriff's Office.
Since Payton has not been convicted of any crime, law enforcement here in the state have not been able take any action.
"The thing is, he was charged, he's not been convicted of a crime yet, Idaho does have warrants, but they wouldn't extradite from Oklahoma," Pearson said. "We couldn't arrest, we couldn't enforce the rules."
On Monday, Pearson's office learned about the missing girl and where she had been found from the same Haskell residents so the office again contacted Idaho law enforcement about Payton.
This time, Idaho authorities agreed to extradite him, according to Pearson.
Payton, who was living at his mother's home in Haskell, was taken to the Muskogee County jail.
Payton's bond is set at $50,000.
"We have found evidence of molestation, and I think we're gonna be able to charge here locally and then Idaho can have him after we're through," Pearson said.
And until then - the sheriff is praising Rodgers, who he says may have saved lives of at least two children in the town.
"If you have a gut feeling or any kind of instinct inside you that tells you something's wrong, follow that 100 percent," Pearson said.
And the two children involved are in Department of Human Services custody.
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