LAKE CITY, Mich. (WOOD) - Missaukee County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Wiers never expected tofind a missing girl in Northern Michigan, 1,500 miles from her homein Colorado.
The Grand Rapids native said he knew something was wrong when awoman who called herself Melissa Lopez came to the sheriff'sdepartment last week, saying her 13-year-old son was missing. Theboy was found later that week.
"Things just weren't adding up," Wiers said. "Her behavior wasnot appropriate (and) her answers to questions were out of line forhow a parent of a missing child would be acting."
So before he headed to the woman's home, he ran a criminal checkon her and her husband, Enrique Arreola-Lopez. Wiers found one oftheir names pop up in connection with a missing Colorado girl.
"A lot of times, you get these hits on names, and while I wasintrigued by the message, I figured, no, it can't be here -- notthis one," Wiers said.
He went to the woman's home in Lake City. She said she had beenliving there with her husband and two sons. When Wiers got there,he saw some young girls clothing and asked the woman who theybelonged to; she responded the items belonged to her daughter, whoshe "forgot" lived there.
After some more digging and questioning the girl, Wiers foundout she was 7-year-old Mystic Salazar, who had been taken from hercustodial parents by her biological father, Enrique Arreola-Lopez,about two years ago.
She had been living in a trailer home in Falmouth with Enriqueand Melissa Lopez, and two boys.
"To me, that was unacceptable," Wiers said. "These people havedamaged this 7-year-old girl. Now, by taking her away from the onlyparents she has known her life and filling her with lies and makingher live under an assumed name, there should be some type ofpunishment for that, and I'm going to do everything in my power tosee 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 reunitedwith the child Friday. They have since returned to Grand Junction,Colo., with Mystic.
"Just to see [them reunited] and to witness her being reunitedwith her custodial parents was all the thanks I needed andrecognition," Wiers said.
Enrique Arreola-Lopez has been taken into Immigration andCustoms Enforcement custody.
Colorado authorities told Weirs they can't file criminal chargesagainst the man, and they consider it a civil case, he told 24 HourNews 8. But Weirs said he is working with the U.S. Attorney'sOffice and the FBI to try to change that.
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