Exclusive: Wyoming town relieved after suspected child kidnapper caught

Cody, Wyo. Oct. 15, 2012

Cody, Wyo. Oct. 15, 2012

CODY, Wyo. — After a manhunt for an alleged child predator, the community of Cody, Wyoming is resting a little easier after a man with Colorado ties was arrested this weekend for investigation of kidnapping an 11-year-old girl.

Police arrested Jesse Speer in Belgrade, Montana. He’s awaiting extradition back to Cody.

Jesse Speer held in Montana. Oct. 15, 2012

Jesse Speer held in Montana. Oct. 15, 2012

FOX31 Denver was the only Denver TV station that went to Cody Monday. It’s a small town that serves as the gateway to Yellowstone and that offers a piece of the wild west.

“We’ve held our breath for a week,” says Rob Garrett.

One week ago, the town which normally attracts thousands of tourists every year also attracted 39-year-old Jesse Speer. He’s a photographer from Montana with ties to Colorado. He has been associated with photography businesses in Fort Collins and Colorado Springs.

Police say he kidnapped an 11-year-old girl outside the Park County Library in Cody. They say he approached the victim and her friends, asking for help to find a missing dog.

Police say Speer flashed a gun and forced the girl inside his Toyota 4Runner.

“The victim stated when they left the Park County complex the suspect drove her to a church parking lot and bound her hands with rope,” says Cody Police Chief Perry Rockvam.

Rachel Tillotson’s father and younger brother  found the girl wandering down Carter Mountain late Monday night.  She had been released by her suspected kidnapper.

They just finished hunting with friends and had no idea about the Amber Alert that was issued for the little girl.

“I think he’s the biggest hero, and I love him to death,” Rachel Tillotson says about her father. “I think he’s a hero in this way and in more ways than one.”

Police say surveillance cameras around town and at local businesses helped investigators track Speer down.

Police captured him almost a week after the abduction. They say they found pictures of naked young girls in his vehicle.

Ten days before the abduction in Cody, the suspect posted a picture of the Grand Tetons and wrote on his Facebook page that he’s “Taking to the road with a camera in hand with no particular destination in mind.”

Little did anyone know he would allegedly kidnap and assault a young girl from a small Wyoming town.