Missing girl found in Fort Atkinson man’s home; 9-year-old son unaware girl was there

Fort Atkinson man facse federal kidnapping charges

A Fort Atkinson man is accused of kidnapping a Michigan teen and driving her to his apartment where he kept her for several days, according to a court document.

James Daniel Werner, 43, is accused of abducting a 14-year-old girl from Saginaw, Michigan, on April 15, then driving her to his home in Fort Atkinson and locking her inside until Friday, when law enforcement found her after receiving a tip.

According to the criminal complaint filed Sunday by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, Werner and the girl started communicating using an instant messenger app called Kik. Werner asked the girl for her address, then drove to her home in Saginaw. He messaged the girl, telling her to come outside, but she didn’t come out until 2 hours later. When she came outside, Werner grabbed her wrist and forced her into his car, authorities said, then drove back to Fort Atkinson and locked her in a bedroom.

Werner told police the girl wanted to run away from home, according to the complaint. He said they arrived in Fort Atkinson at 7:30 a.m. April 16 and went to sleep. When they woke up, he started to panic.

Werner bought the girl a tablet so she could communicate with him while he was out of the apartment. The complaint said Fort Atkinson police received a tip about the missing girl’s whereabouts from a woman who works for a nationwide crisis texting hotline. The girl also used Kik to message with a friend and told the friend, “I’m a missing child” and “I was taken,” authorities said.

Officials used the Kik username to request the IP address, and Charter Communications responded to an emergency request from police for the subscriber at that IP address, which led them to Werner, the report said.

Police spoke to Werner outside his home, and he admitted he had the girl inside and gave police permission to go inside, authorities said.

News 3 spoke to a woman Tuesday who identified herself as Werner’s estranged wife.

She said her 9-year-old son was living with Werner at the time, but didn’t even know the girl was there until police came into the apartment.

“He didn’t know where she came from, how long she had been there. He didn’t hear anything different, see anything different. All of a sudden she was just escorted from a bedroom, from Jim’s bedroom,” the woman said.

The mother said her 9-year-old son has been struggling to deal with the situation.

The girl told police Werner touched her “on all parts of her body.”

Werner said he never had sexual contact with the girl and that they were clothed every night as they slept in his bed. He said he touched her over her clothes and kissed her.

Werner faces federal charges in federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan of transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, coercion and enticement and traveling with intent to engage in illicit sexual contact.

The Daily Union reported Tuesday that Fort Atkinson police recommended multiple charges against Werner to the Jefferson County district attorney in connection with the case. Charges in Jefferson County might be filed in the future, but were delayed temporarily to allow the federal case to move forward, the Daily Union reported.