Updated: Wednesday, 26 May 2010, 7:03 AM EDT
Published : Tuesday, 25 May 2010, 5:03 PM EDT
LAKE CITY, Mich. (WOOD) - Missaukee County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Wiers never expected to find a missing girl in Northern Michigan, 1,500 miles from her home in Colorado.
The Grand Rapids native said he knew something was wrong when a woman who called herself Melissa Lopez came to the sheriff's department last week, saying her 13-year-old son was missing. The boy was found later that week.
"Things just weren't adding up," Wiers said. "Her behavior was not appropriate (and) her answers to questions were out of line for how a parent of a missing child would be acting."
So before he headed to the woman's home, he ran a criminal check on her and her husband, Enrique Arreola-Lopez. Wiers found one of their names pop up in connection with a missing Colorado girl.
"A lot of times, you get these hits on names, and while I was intrigued by the message, I figured, no, it can't be here -- not this one," Wiers said.
He went to the woman's home in Lake City. She said she had been living there with her husband and two sons. When Wiers got there, he saw some young girls clothing and asked the woman who they belonged to; she responded the items belonged to her daughter, who she "forgot" lived there.
After some more digging and questioning the girl, Wiers found out she was 7-year-old Mystic Salazar, who had been taken from her custodial parents by her biological father, Enrique Arreola-Lopez, about two years ago.
She had been living in a trailer home in Falmouth with Enrique and Melissa Lopez, and two boys.
"To me, that was unacceptable," Wiers said. "These people have damaged this 7-year-old girl. Now, by taking her away from the only parents she has known her life and filling her with lies and making her live under an assumed name, there should be some type of punishment for that, and I'm going to do everything in my power to see that to a conclusion."
Mystic's parents were notified their daughter had been found. They were flown by a nonprofit to the Cadillac area and reunited with the child Friday. They have since returned to Grand Junction, Colo., with Mystic.
"Just to see [them reunited] and to witness her being reunited with her custodial parents was all the thanks I needed and recognition," Wiers said.
Enrique Arreola-Lopez has been taken into Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.
Colorado authorities told Weirs they can't file criminal charges against the man, and they consider it a civil case, he told 24 Hour News 8. But Weirs said he is working with the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI to try to change that.