FBI Assisting In Broken Arrow Rape Manhunt

Monday, September 24th 2007, 12:17 pm
By: News On 6

The FBI office in Tulsa is assisting Broken Arrow Police in the hunt for a man who kidnapped a 5-year-old girl from her drive-way and sexually assaulted her Thursday. The Federal Bureau of Investigations says it is offering technical assistance as well as agents. The Broken Arrow Police Department is checking criminal databases and following up on leads. News on 6 Crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports the suspect was driving a white, Dodge Inteprid.

Investigators hope a forensics interview of the victim helps.

For that, there is a special room in Tulsa where children are interviewed. There are no bright colors or paintings on the wall.

Children in crisis need calming, non-distracting places to tell their stories.

The easel and markers allow them to draw or write about their experiences, if they can't find the words.

“Sometimes, they don't want to speak their answers, so they write them. They draw scenes where the event took place because it's more comfortable than saying it out loud. We have anatomical diagrams that we use to identify body parts,” says forensic interviewer Melissa Gantz.

Behind the large two-way mirror, a camera records the interview to avoid making the child repeat the details over and over again.

The interview room is part of Tulsa's Justice Center, a place designed for children in crisis.

Everything is designed for the child's comfort, even the waiting room, which is shaped like a teddy bear and filled with bears and a fish tank.

Forensic interviewers are specially trained to get information from children in a way that's objective and not leading, either in words or body language.

"It's really important in investigations that children are brought in for forensic interviews because well intentioned people in the community might try to speak to a child and not have the training, including to testify to a courtroom and that can cause problems in an investigation,” says forensic interviewer Melissa Gantz.

The justice center serves about 45 children every week. The average age is six and a half and more than half come because of sexual abuse.

The center has doctors, social workers, police officers and prosecutors all in one place, so children don't have to go all over town, repeating their stories of pain and abuse.

Forensic interviewers say children shouldn't be forced to talk.

Even though each case is unique, they do follow a protocol proven to best gain details from children.

Police hope the victim's forensic interview will give them information about the suspect.

There is a fund set up for the girl and her family. You can make donations at the City National Bank in Broken Arrow. It’s under the name of B.A.’s angel.

Related stories:

9/21/2007 - Search Underway For Suspect In Abduction And Sexual Assault

9/21/2007 - Neighbors In Shock After Five Year Old Kidnapped, Raped

9/22/2007 - Community Shaken By Rape

9/22/2007 - Search For Rapist Continues

9/23/2007 - New Lead In Rape Of 5-Year-Old Girl

9/24/2007 - Help For Child Assault Victim As Search For Attacker Continues