By Jennifer Mayerle

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 5-year-old girl who was kidnapped following a deadly house fire in Bemidji was found Thursday morning “safe and alive.”

Brittany Rose Balcer went missing Wednesday following a fire on the 3900 block of Irvine Avenue.

According to the Bemidji Police Department, fire officials responded to a call of a fire in a mobile home around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday. Once crews were able to quell the flames, they investigated the home and found the body of an adult female, who was a family friend of Balcer’s. The girl was not found.

Over 50 law enforcement officials and volunteers then began to search the woods and swampy area near the mobile home.

On Wednesday evening, officers spoke with 32-year-old Jacob William Kinn, a person of interest in the case. He was taken into custody in connection with Balcer’s disappearance. Police say he knew the woman found dead in the mobile home.

Jacob Kinn 1

Investigators then used cell phone tracking technology to trace Kinn’s movements to a wooded area in Bigfork, which is about 70 miles northeast of Bemidji.

There, in a property owned by Kinn’s relatives, Balcer was found alive. She was then taken to a hospital for treatment.

Kinn is no stranger to police. He has been arrested and convicted on child pornography charges several times. He is currently in the Beltrami County jail awaiting formal charges in connection to Balcer’s disappearance.

Brittany’s father, Scott Balcer, released this statement Thursday evening:

“We are all very greatfull for the amount of involvement and support in our community we would like to thank all that was involved in bringing our daughter back home to us safe.”

Authorities say the fire and the kidnapping remain under investigation.

Jennifer Mayerle

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