The Federal Bureau of Investigation in Alaska held a press conference Monday to discuss a child abduction case in North Pole. The rare move by the Bureau is an attempt to calm the public, and recruit them to help.
In a second-floor conference room at the FBI’s Anchorage headquarters, Assistant Special Agent David Condo recapped the criminal complaint filed in the case of an alleged. Condo says that 40-year-old Michael D. Bowen Jr. of Wasilla stopped two sisters aged 9 and 7 on the afternoon of Saturday, August 1st.
“Two-and-a-half hours after the girls had left home they returned, telling their parents they had been grabbed off their bikes by a man in a truck in front of the North Pole Middle School,” Condo read from a prepared statement ahead of questions.
Agents say there is no evidence of abuse during the time Bowen allegedly kept the girls locked in the truck. According to the criminal complaint filed by the FBI, Bowen first denied being in the area where the abduction took place, though later admitted he’d taken the girls, thrown a cell phone out of the truck to prevent tracking, and told the girls “there would be no turning back.”
“When asked why,” Condo told reporters, “he said he thought the girls were too young to be out on their own, and he wanted to teach the girls’ parents a lesson, and he said that he would do it again.”
Law enforcement located Bowen based on extremely specific information the two children gave to officers, all the way down to the brand of sneakers their abductor wore, a ring on his finger, and a flag decorating the rear-view mirror of his Dodge pickup truck. Agents say the information was essential for coordinating with police in North Pole and other agencies trying to locate a suspect in the week after the girls were taken.
Bowen faces two federal counts of kidnapping. The FBI only gets involved in abduction cases when local law enforcement requests their help. The last time that happened in Alaska was the investigation into a family of four–including two children–that went missing from Kenai in 2014. But Bureau agents want local partners to reach out more. According to Kurt Ormberg, supervisory agent for the Violent Crimes Squad, every year the FBI handles 100 to 150 “prototypical child abductions.”
“Just under 50 percent end in a child’s death,” Ormberg said. “That’s why we take this as seriously as we do. We know that monsters do exist. They don’t have horns, they don’t have fangs, they look just like us–but they do exist. And telling our children that, I think, empowers them.”
The FBI in Alaska rarely holds press conferences or comments on open investigations. But officials say that in this case they’re hoping to assure concerned North Pole residents the threat from this particular abduction is over. And that putting out details from the case may lead to more information coming from the public about Bowen.
A request left with the U.S. Attorney’s Office about whether or not Bowen has legal representation was not immediately returned on Monday.