Girl found safe after being taken from school; search still on for suspect

Rob Rethamel
Rob Rethamel

By Stefano DiPietrantonio – bio |email|Facebook

WEST CHESTER, OH (FOX19) - Police said a 12-year-old girl was taken from Lakota Ridge Junior High on Beckett Ridge Boulevard in West Chester, Thursday morning. People saw the 12-year-old girl get into a white Chevy pick-up truck. West Chester Police are still searching for the driver right now.

No one had any idea where she disappeared to, until she showed-up, back in class, unharmed, hours later.

Police canceled an Amber Alert for the girl.

"The facts of how she ended-up back at school that's what we're looking into now," said Sergeant Matthew Tombragel with the West Chester Police. "But at approximately 8:25 this morning, she was reported by the school as leaving with an male, an adult male."

Tombragel said it was 39-year-old Rob Rethamel.

"It's actually just a family friend," Tombragel said. "It's the mother's boyfriend's brother."

The pair recently became friends on Facebook, according to Rethamel's profile. Police said he has a few traffic violations on his record, but nothing else. Initially, police called this a kidnapping investigation.

"He is still at large and he is still wanted for questioning in the kidnapping," Tombragel said.

Investigators are checking all prior addresses for Rethamel, but he is last known as living in West Chester.

"He picked her up here at school," Tombragel said. "And she left with him."

Police are reviewing surveillance video cameras to see how the girl got back into the school, to determine how long she might have been missing.

"The mom was contacted from the get go and she had concerns for her daughter's welfare and safety," Tombragel said.

She left some time after 8am. Lakota Schools spokesperson Laura Kursman said they immediately let other parents know what was happening to keep people from panicking.

"We did send out an all-call to our parents here at Ridge to let them know that they would be seeing this on the media and to let them know what the situation was," Kursman said. "So that they didn't have concerns about the safety of their own children."

Rethamel is still on the run. He is a white male, 39-years-old and 6-feet tall, weighing about 198 pounds. He has dirty blonde hair and blue eyes and is believed to be driving a white, 1999 Chevy 2500 truck, with Ohio license plate: EWU-4540

Until they can track Rethamel down and speak with him they are still considering this a kidnapping.

If you think you have seen Rethamel, call West Chester Police -- or CrimeStoppers at 513-352-3040.

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